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Dramaworks finds new (and fresh) voice

May 24 2007
Jan Sjostrom | Palm Beach Daily News

Few people know how to tell a good story. But playwright John Olive does, and through him, so does Davey Quinn, the raconteur whose tales drive The Voice of the Prairie. Guided by director William Hayes, Palm Beach Dramaworks' production capitalizes on the richness of the storytelling tradition in a warm-hearted Huckleberry Finn-like tale set during the early days of radio. Todd Allen Durkin, Gordon McConnell and Nanique Gheridian play all the characters in the production — and there are a good many. McConnell plays several drunks and, most impressively, the older Davey, who blossoms from tongue-tied farmer to confident radio personality. Among the characters Gheridian inhabits are the younger and older Frankie, two markedly different personas whose inner consistency she skillfully communicates. John Hall's lighting design and Daniel Gordon's sound design, which among other effects re-create thunderstorms, contribute powerfully to the show's spell. With its grounding in oral storytelling and good-humored affection for its principal characters, The Voice of the Prairie is a refreshing change of pace from the more serious fare Dramaworks has presented this season.