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American Magic

May 17 2007
Brandon K. Thorp | New Times Broward

"The Voice of the Prairie is almost certainly the strongest offering from Palm Beach Dramaworks this season, and that's saying a lot. Though it's been a favorite of the nation's regional theaters for going on 20 years, John Olive's Voice has never had the arty cachet of Harold Pinter's Betrayal or been recognized for the kind of world-historic commentary dripping from every moment of Arthur Miller's The Price — two other recent PBD productions..." "This is a love story tucked inside a parable about some of the nation's last real pioneers (the pioneers of electronic media), and it's a great deal of fun — both because of the wonderful, playful, and unexpectedly moving script and because of the frenetic, joyous life it's given by PBD's three actors. Caught up in the play's whirlwind motions, they seem like a cast of thousands, putting flesh on the bones of more characters than one can rightly recall, shedding their skins with a gleeful exuberance and a breathtaking feel for American speech, movement, and the fiery variance in turn-of-the-century American personae. Gordon McConnell is a soft-spoken farmer, a drunken Irish cad, a violent father, and a mean redneck. Todd Allen Durkin is a wide-eyed kid, a fast-talking New York shyster, a lonely preacher with vicious asthma, and a leering cop. Nanique Gheridian is the lusty young Frankie, the melancholy Frances, and a simpering fan — and in one of the play's more telling moments, she is the schoolteacher Frances playing the part of a seer named Ms. Emily, a meta-performance that has everything to do with the beautiful and passionate vision of America at The Voice of the Prairie's core."