Edge, Reviews, Theater

‘Visiting Hours’ poses heavy drama, little depth

The cover of the program for the New Theatre’s production of “Visiting Hours” poses the question: Can parents ever escape the guilt for the sins of their children? It’s a loaded query that set the stage for an evening of heavy familial drama and razor-sharp tension. Unfortunately, the South Florida premiere of David Caudle’s 2012 play raised more questions than it knew how to answer.

Set in present day Coral Gables, “Visiting Hours” follows the lives of Beth (Madelin Marchant) and Marian (Barbara Sloan), a committed lesbian couple who have been estranged from their son Paul (Alex Alvarez) for two years. When they unexpectedly discover his girlfriend Shelly (Maria Corina Ramirez) in their garage apartment and learn that Paul has been arrested for aggravated assault, relationships are tested and truths surface that might have been better left unsaid.

Caudle’s script does not shy away from risky territory; the show opens with a scene in which the landlady, Nat (Kitt Marsh) solicits Shelly to prostitute herself in order to make money to bail out Paul. Caudle writes characters who are deeply dysfunctional and flawed, with histories of abuse, self-destructive tendencies and fiery tempers. Yet his work sometimes seems to collapse under the weight of all these issues. Outbursts and even suicidal episodes explode out of nowhere, forcing the actors to make melodramatic choices to justify these sudden blasts of emotion.

The intimate black box space of the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center’s Lab Theatre forced the audience to get up close and personal with Caudle’s highly volatile characters. This was a blessing and a curse. The proximity endowed quieter moments, such as Alvarez cradling Ramirez in his arms after an outburst, with a poignancy that would have been lost in a larger venue. It also allowed Marchant to craft a Beth who was perfectly understated and comfortably real in her behavioral tics.

However, the lack of distance made the frequent eruptions of screaming and violence a profoundly uncomfortable experience that verged on comical, without the benefit of a greater separation which could have softened the overwrought intensity.

To their credit, the New Theatre’s set, designed by Alyiece Moretto, was incredibly detailed and stood up to the intense scrutiny of audience members who were not 10 feet away from the front of the stage. Moretto thought of everything, from roof tiles on the floor to suggest the garage beneath the apartment, to cabinets and a refrigerator stocked with the food that Beth and Marian would actually have, despite not appearing in the show.

In the end, “Visiting Hours” was more confusing than it was enlightening, a potentially interesting character study that struggled under too much drama and too little depth. At the show’s conclusion, the audience was left not with a sense of catharsis, but of confusion, the giant question from the program still hanging in the air as the lights faded to black.

If you go:

“Visiting Hours”

Where: South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay, Florida 33189

When: Fridays & Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. through March 2.

Cost: $26 to $31. $15 student rush tickets with ID.

For more information, call 786-573-5300 or visit new-theatre.org

February 19, 2014


Madelyn Paquette

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

University of Miami linebacker Jamie Gordinier has had another unfortunate setback, effectively side ...

The calmest coach on the planet got mad Friday after football practice. University of Miami coach Ma ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.