Review: The Islander

By Bob Evans

Relevance Productions continues to string together interesting and challenging pieces for Kansas City Fringe audiences to view and discuss, and this year’s entry, The Islander, brings memories of the old-time Rod Serling TV series The Twilight Zone.

The play, on the Levin Stage of The Unicorn Theatre, finds a crack insurance salesman demonstrating his sales expertise as he encourages a man to reconsider his life insurance options to insure his loved ones continue to survive, should he untimely pass. As the opening scene fades, a new scene opens with a talented, Nathan Bowman, strumming his guitar and singing to a nearly empty bar room.

Enter Eddie, the insurance salesman, played by Scott Cox, and watch as his master class in acting compels the audience to keep their eyes laser focused on him.  Cox masters the tormented soul who comes nightly to the same bar to talk to the same bartender, listen to the same rehearsed song, and drink until his welcome far exceeds the clock-time.

Cox and Bowman work well together and their scenes, though short, are filled with beautiful acting nuances and characterization.  They provide the inner frame to the bar.  Cox’s insurance salesman provides the first structure of the play.

A newcomer to Kansas City theater arrives in the form of Annie Schwaner, as Dana, the new girl in the bar awaiting a pick up.  Her scene with Cox continues on the fine level as his scenes with Bowman.  As Dana, Schwaner shares the stage with a truly talented actor and manages to hold center stage alongside him.

The play is one of those mental journeys into drunkenness and the manifestations of the mind.  Injured characters and family dysfunction drive this piece, but the fine acting by the principals causes the show to excel and entertain.  Audiences will leave the theatre and continue to think and talk about this one.

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