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Theater Review: OAK


SARASOTA — On Friday, Urbanite Theater in downtown Sarasota presented the world premiere of Terry Guest's OAK. A tight tale of Southern Gothic lore that recalls the works of Zora Neale Hurston and Flannery O'Connor, Guest's latest effort suggests that he's well on his way to becoming a bona fide master of the genre.

OAK was selected by Urbanite as a recipient of the 2020 Charles Rowan Beye New Play Commission. Guest said he spent four years developing the play with Urbanite, during which time he also wowed their audiences with At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen (review).

Both the children and adults living in the community along Odella Creek fear the red-eyed monster with an endless appetite for teens. Pickle, her little brother "Big Man," and cousin Suga' are doing their best to survive snatching season under the watchful eye of Peaches—Pickle and Little Man's mother.

Recent FSU Asolo Conservatory grad Asolo Trezure B. Coles is downright electric as Pickle, a teen who wants little more than to escape the suffocating confines of the small, depressed community before it swallows her up, literally or figuratively.

William Rose performs tremendously as Big Man, the scared younger sibling for whom Pickle is the whole world. DeAnna Wright, who was a class standout while at the FSU Asolo Conservatory, impresses once again as Peaches, while Jaeda LaVonne gives a strong turn as Suga’ to round out an excellent cast.

Frank Chavez's dark yet whimsical set provides the perfect mood, aided by Alex Pinchin's lighting. Directed by Mikael Burke, OAK runs through June 30. Visit the Urbanite website for more information.


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