The Break of Noon Theatre Review - Challenging What We Believe

The Geffen Playhouse production of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon directed by Jo Bonney

John Smith ( Kevin Anderson) is the solo survivor of a workplace massacre., Juan Diaz, the disgruntled ex-employee that John personally fired, after killing 37 people, walks straight at Juan, gun raised with police still moments away. Yet John Smith survived. He claims to have seen a light and to have heard the voice of God. He claims that God saves him; and he thinks he knows why.


The horribleness of the event leads to national fascination. Fascination leads to notoriety. Notoriety leaves to fame. Fame leads to wealth. Wealth leads to the power of influence. Instantly the name and face of John Smith is everywhere.


Kevin Anderson and Catherine Dent in the Geffen Playhouse production of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon

So begins John Smith’s re-assimilation back into the world as a Chosen One. He feels a strong obligation to share the knowledge of God’s love. However, his message keeps getting lost because he is the messenger. His ex-wife Ginger ( Catherine Dent) has a hard cutting John any slack because he was a fantastically ineffectual husband and father. Jenny ( Tracee Chimo), the Talk Show Host believes that God spoke to John, but only because she chooses to believes. The Detective ( John Earl Jelks) that calls his through the show does not believe because, well, he’s a cop, there has to be more to it than the “person of interest” says, there has to be a provable reason, right?


Tracee Chimo and Kevin Anderson in the Geffen Playhouse production of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon

The Break of Noon explores who we believe and why, or why not. Some people automatically gravitate to the extraordinary and the spiritual. Others cling steadfast to the concrete and the practical. Still others don’t concern themselves with the why and focus on the immediate, personal after effect. The show cycles through six encounters of John with individuals of varying degrees of belief. But his greatest obstacle always boils down to the fact that, while professing a new, higher calling, he is still the same guy, self-absorbed, capable of only limited humility.


Kevin Anderson and John Earl Jelks in the Geffen Playhouse production of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon

Writer Neil Labute is a master at writing male characters that are both confrontational and morally ambiguous. The John Smith character in The Break of Noon is no exception. Jo Bonney directs Kevin Anderson in a performance that is equally despicable and inspiring. The entire supporting cast of Chimo, Dent and Jelks really shines while performing double duty in two distinctly different roles each.


Kevin Anderson in the Geffen Playhouse production of Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon directed by Jo Bonney

The play itself was not as provocative in substance as the set design by Neil Patel. His revolving set, framed in a bank of lights that line the proscenium arch, compliments of lighting design by David Weiner, accentuated the virtues of simplicity and economy in visual story telling.

 

Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon, directed by Jo Bonney is currently running through March 6, 2011 at:


 

The Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue

Los Angeles, California 90024

 

Tel: (310) 208-5454


 

http://www.geffenplayhouse.com/

 


Photo Credit: Michael Lamont


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