By Ian Beabout, Online Editor
Kelly Theater’s 2016 season continued with Rattlesnake on Thursday, September the 8th. Rattlesnake is a one man play, written and performed by John Hardy. The play centers on Sherman Trent, a Texan who wants nothing more in life to be a father, as he is continuously turned down throughout his life by women and adoption agencies alike.
Sherman both loves and hates the rattlesnake. He fears them, but also finds comfort and solace in their presence. “It’s okay to kill a rattlesnake,” he says in the play, using their skin for belts and other items to earn a living. Later, he learns to cook the snakes and finds himself in Paris where he does meet a woman but finds his bond to the snakes is too strong.
The play was expertly performed with a minimal set consisting of a few chairs and a table, with Brady Dunn providing some sound design. Hardy shifted effortlessly between characters and different accents, embodying 16 different characters throughout the duration of the performance.
I admit I had a little bit of difficulty following the plot and keeping up with the story and had to refer to the program often to see which character Hardy was assuming in the plot and which time period and location we were in. I think it would’ve been better served with a full cast, but I admire the demands the art put on the audience to comprehend what was happening. I’ve always believed strongly that it is up to the consumer of art to make compromises, not the art itself and Rattlesnake demands both the attention and the imagination of the audience.
Hardy’s influence on West Liberty’s Kelly Theater does not end here. In October, the Hilltop Players bring us Poe: Master of the Macabre – also a Hardy work – which is adapted from three of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous horror pieces. Poe is directed by Micheal Aulick and runs October 20-21 and 27-29 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on October 30 at 3:00 p.m.