"Down and Derby" (The New Colony): Jamming Until It Hits Speed Bumps

"Down and Derby" (The New Colony):  Jamming Until It Hits Speed Bumps

The New Colony presents the world premiere of DOWN AND DERBY.  Larkin City, Ohio was hit by a tornado.  The small town suffered many deaths.  To change their mourning routine, sisters Rose and Lilly decide to start a roller derby team.  They recruit the town misfits.  When these gals put on their skates, they transform into a motley crew.  With aliases like Dirty Harriet, Blood Bath & Beyond, Whip-her Snap-her, the ladies are ready to tear up the rink. Unfortunately, home life drags them away from their passionate play.  DOWN AND DERBY is jamming until it hits speed bumps.

The premise is similar to the movie “Whip It,” crazy and volatile personalities of women skaters.  Taking it to stage is ambitious.  Director Thrisa Hodits and Movement Director Katie Spelman make it impressively roll.  The best parts are the skating!  In Redtape Theatre’s small space, the team is aggressively rolling past the audience… sometimes inches away and taking curves with surprising fearlessness.  The choreographed falling and pushing and skating and -most astounding to me- jumping back up and moving on is captivating.  The team, in skates, marches in together as a team. It is wheelie cool!  The action is fun and energetic!  I’m ready to cheer these moxie Mavericks to victory.  But they never get very far in a *bout* because they’ve got issues at home.         

The New Colony’s productions are anchored in devising shows through collaborative efforts.  Playwright Aaron Weissman worked with the actors to produce this script.  For DOWN AND DERBY, it works against the production.  Sixteen cast members is a lot of people to wrangle into shared storytelling.  Weissman & Co. attempt to interject drama with a drunken father, an ambitious mother, a flakey sister.  The first few scenes play with time as we go back and forth to give depth to multiple storylines. It’s a lot of stuff going on on-the-side when we came to see a sport that is known for its theatrics.  Pre-show is a teaser as the skaters rally support for their upcoming bloodbath.  I’m ready for the catfight on skates! But each time, the action gets started, it stops abruptly.  And the gals go home. Every time they leave the rink, the show gets clichéd and convoluted.  We came to see the staged antics of roller derby.  Come on, skate! Skate! Skate!

The New Colony needs to keep *all* the drama in the rink.  By tightening up the laces and focusing on the skating, DOWN AND DERBY could be an irresistible theatric sport meets sports theatre.      

Running Time:  One hour and fifty minutes includes an intermission

At Redtape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont

Written by Aaron Weissman

Directed by Thrisa Hodits

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Thru December 8th

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