The Backdoor Playhouse’s latest production is full of everything from conspiracies to laughs to splendid dramatic acting. “Yankee Tavern” is the story of two young lovers in a New York City bar five years after 9/11. The tavern is patroned by only a loud, boisterous conspiracy nutjob and a silent, mysterious man.
The entire cast gives an impressive performance throughout the two acts of the Steven Dietz’s original work. Theater professor and artistic director of the Backdoor Playhouse, Mark H. Creter is electric as the confident theorist Ray. Creter’s turn is reminiscent of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as he’s spouting off lines like “some guy heard my theory about Yoko Ono and The Bay of Pigs and he wants me to start a blob!” Creter’s Ray can also add to the drama himself, getting right in the face of Adam, played by Joshua W. Rapp, who also directed the play.
While the first act may belong to Creter, the second act really allows his costars talent to shine. Andrew N. Davis plays the mysterious Palmer who has more secrets than anyone has a right to, and in the second half you get a full view of the all-seeing, all-knowing bar fly.
“The only way to get rid of a ghost… is to become one,” Palmer says, sending shivers down your spine. Not to be out done, Caroline Brown delivers a terrified performance as she fears what is happening to her world around her, trembling and shedding tears of fear in one scene then confidently telling fiancÃ© Adam what she has learned in the next.
Rapp’s Adam holds his own, as well. In the beginning, Adam is a young man that just wants to marry the girl of his dreams. But, by the end, Adam appears to know more than he let on originally.
The production has humor and wit to last, but what makes it stand out is the way it makes you think. By the end of the play you’ll be asking yourself “was it a conspiracy? Or merely a coincidence?”