‘Oleanna’ Gives a Glimpse to Both Sides of the Story

Misunderstandings and double standards are at the center of the pivotal play “Oleanna.” David Mamet’s 1992 work is being presented by the Pinecrest Repertory Theater Company. It is now showing at Pinecrest Gardens Banyan Bowl, 11000 S.W. Red Road, Pinecrest. The upcoming weekend is the last chance to catch it: June 5 and 6 at 2 pm.

Carol (Bertha Leal) is an undergraduate student meeting with her professor, Dr. John (Greg Schroeder). She is not doing well in the class and desperately wants to improve. Scenes of Carol in the professor’s office show her listening attentively to Dr. John and amusingly using different color highlighters to code her notes. Her confusion continues to resonate in her declaration, “I don’t understand.”

It is within these four walls that a deal is made – one that comes back to haunt Dr. John. He guarantees Carol a passing grade if she’ll continue to meet with him for one-to-one talks.

At first, Dr. John holds the power over his frail student. Towards the play’s end, the tables turn as evident by the body language and stage positioning. It is now Carol that stands behind the professor’s desk demanding understanding, while Dr. John crumbles as his tenure looms in limbo and his dreams of providing a (more) privileged life to his family seem dismal.

The viewer has a first-hand look at when something is perhaps taken out of context and when individuals in the same situation see things from two sides of the spectrum.

An ‘oleana’ is used to refer to the pursuit of an idealistic dream where all things are possible. So, who is right and who is wrong? Whichever side you take, you may still doubt yourself.

Both actors are believable in their roles as you feel the desperation and conviction of their characters.

Director Max Pearl interprets Mamet’s work beautifully with poignancy and attention to detail.

Something unique to this play is the use of a fight choreographer. Joey Costello directs the student-professor fight scene. It is dramatic and powerful. One can feel then stress emanating from their climatic struggle.

Kenneth Kurtz (scenic designer) displays a wonderful example of an academic office. Book shelves adorn the room as well as an aged couch and desk. Scattered papers are amidst the tension-filled quarters.

Final Curtain notes: The Banyan Bowl is quite hot this season and the fans were off during the showing I attended. However, bottled waters are provided to audience members upon entrance. Wear light clothes if you plan to attend.

For tickets, visit http://www.pinecrestrep.org or call (305) 378-8239.

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