Shotgun Players’ Reading Series hits the spot

champagne reading seriesI love the Shotgun Players. For the last few years, I’ve been a happy subscriber to both the main season and the companion reading series that cleverly echoes themes from the fully staged shows. Now I have to choose more carefully which shows I can see and look for deals, whether it’s scanning Goldstar, going to previews, or taking advantage of the generosity of theater groups, such as the Shotgun Players, who allow theater-goers to donate what they can for certain performances.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Clare Lizzimore’s Animal, which was the two-night-only staged reading that took advantage of the great set designed for The Village Bike. 

Shotgun’s website describes the Champagne Reading Series this way:

We give our actors just enough staging and tech to get started and then we let adrenaline do the rest!

They take just four days to read, block, rehearse, and add music and lighting. And they do an amazing job that’s incredibly polished and professional! Yes, they consult their scripts, which they carry with them; but except when staging requires that they do something else with their hands, their playbooks are hardly noticeable. Director Katja Rivera worked wonders in her limited time.

And the cast was impeccable, headed by the impressive Jessma Evans, who portrayed Rachel, a woman who suffers from situationally induced psychosis. (Her British accent was even spot on.)

The play was both dark and funny and explored severe mental illness in a very real way. Although I’ve never had a psychotic episode myself, this story struck me to my core.

It’s too bad that it played for only two nights. This is another one that I would highly recommend if you see that it’s playing somewhere in the future.


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