Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See – Theatre Review

Monday, November 28, 2016
Valley Screen and Stage

With the exception of a few chairs and a table, seated against his will in a mostly vacant Phoenix warehouse where the old plastered walls are peeling revealing the brick beneath, is a mailman (Ryan Goldfinger), kidnapped, his wrists restrained. Behind him stands a reprehensible young ponytailed thug named Phil (Devon Nickel) and he’s pointing a gun.

The mailman is frightened, confused. He has no idea why he’s there, plus he doesn’t understand the questions fired at him by the gunman. Nothing is making sense, except maybe one thing: whoever the kidnapper is looking for, this is clearly not the guy. With little concern for the consequences, the pitiless gunman shoots the mailman from behind. Fade out.

It’s the opening salvo to a new, black comic play, Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See, a world premiere by valley playwright Ron Hunting, presented by Stray Cat Theatre running now until December 10 at Tempe Center for the Arts, and like anything new at Stray Cat, a never-before-seen production is like catnip to a reviewer.

In a market where plays and musicals are often repeated, sometimes with alarming regularity, there’s something both refreshing and exciting about seeing a brand new play that has little to no history. 

True to the play’s title, much of what we both see and hear isn’t exactly what we’re meant to believe. Like the best of mysteries where events have already occurred, through hints, declarations and slow reveals, the puzzle starts to form a picture, but there’s always a few pieces missing; nothing’s ever quite complete. It’s where information is held back, not just for our enticement in the David Mamet rule of playwrighting where nuggets of information are purposely withheld in order to always want to know what happens next, but also for the safety of those under questioning.

The plots’s twists and turns as events develop are well planned, and more importantly, unpredictable. There’s no guessing where things are headed, and the surprises and reveals are good ones.  Plus, director Louis Farber handles the movements and the placing of the several characters well....