Sides of History – Review by Teresa Leggard

“Sides of History is Multifaceted Storytelling”

At the Unicorn Theatre Levin Stage an actor comes on before the ubiquitous KC Fringe Festival curtain speech is even over. “Oh,” I think to myself, “they’re going to pack every minute they’ve got.” I had no idea…

When was the last time you left a Fringe show both satisfied and wishing for more? For me, that was today after watching “Sides of History” by Skulldog Productions. The compact one-act starts with a strong piece of dramatic writing by Aaron Scully, and it gets better from there.

The ensemble is led by Deanna Mazdra who plays ALLISON, a well-meaning but overwhelmed professor. Mazdra gives a compelling performance as she shows the many faces of an aspiring academic who sometimes comes across more like the new kid in class. Bri Walker is formidable as SHAUNA, a student dealing with campus culture shock who puts the smart in smart aleck. Aaron Scully takes up the role of MARSHALL, a full professor who is full of himself; the portrayal was so effective it made this reviewer roll her eyes on multiple occasions.

Rounding out the cast are Maya Strickland as CHERRY and Will Morris as J.J. Both actors bring dimension to characters that, though not as fully developed, could have been one-note under other circumstances. Jerry Mañan as BUDDY ushers in a charming, calming presence every time he takes the stage, and Kelsea Botwinik as JEANNIE is equal parts matter-of-fact and diplomatic.

Under the solid direction of Justin Barron, the cast tells a story with conviction and nuance. The performance moves seamlessly from scene to scene and leverages the entirety of the theatre, not just the stage. This drama shows just how quickly power dynamics can shift; the food chain—or rather web—of higher education may be one of the best examples of this truth. In the end, “Sides of History” implores us to move forward, but I might be going back. As in, back to see it again.

Catch one of the remaining performances at the Unicorn Theatre Levin Stage: Tues. (7/23) @7:30pm, Fri. (7/26) @9pm, Sat. (7/27) @7:30pm