Have you been to a swamp lately? Well now you have a chance to visit a very mysterious swamp.
Waterworks Players is presenting Wiley and the Hairy Man set in a swamp in “the Southwest County”.
Wiley, played by Waterworks veteran Logan Schock, is living with Mammy, his grandma, played by Leigh Lunsford who audiences will recognize from previous Waterwork productions, in a cabin near the swamp.
When we meet Wiley, Logan Schock, a Waterwork frequent performer in his first lead role, he is sound asleep. When the character awakes, Schock’s performance shows us a young boy afraid of the mysterious Hairy Man. Schock ably conveys the fear and hesitation of a young man. At the same time when faced with challenges he finds bravery, cleverness, and resolution to face his fears. It is a heartwarming and endearing performance.
Grandma Mammy, not a woman to be messed with, is a conjuror casts spells of all sorts and she is Wiley’s biggest ally. The scenes between Mammy and Wiley are engaging, and alternately funny and scary. Schock’s Wiley is scared when he needs to be and shows his fears, countered by courage, that ends up making him strong. Mammy knows what’s what and at the right moments gives Wiley the strength and knowledge to keep up his challenge to the Hairy Man. Lunford gives a strong performance.
To portray the swamp and its creatures, director Elijah Logue successfully uses the talents of a chorus of eight people to be the creatures, rocks, trees, stones, and mud that spur our imaginations to see a creepy swamp. The chorus includes Howard Fischer—in his Waterworks debut, and theatre veterans Jordan Whiley, Gregory Gibbs, Jr., Kolby Logue, Teagan McKinney, Christy Moore, Madelyn Schock (who also plays an excellent bat), and Anna Stinson. Through spooky voices and exaggerated movements, the Chorus provides just the right setting for the confrontations between Wiley and the Hairy Man and they help us see just how scary a swamp can be.
John Diamond’s Hairy Man is blustery, scary, and downright mean. His confrontations with Wiley offer surprises and a few laughs. Creative uses of the chorus play out those confrontations that ultimately make up the show’s conflict.
Director Elijah Logue makes his successful directorial debut at Waterworks. A frequent performer, Logue takes the director’s chair and creates an air of tension, lightened by a bit of levity that makes this a production sure to engage all ages. Lighting and sound design add to the production, creating the right moods throughout the show.
I can’t end this review without mentioning Grayson Clabo. Young Clabo, in his second performance for Waterworks, plays Wiley’s faithful hound dog—and he does it well; sniffing, pawing, growling, and barking his way to the final conclusion. Every appearance is a delight.
Wiley and the Hairy Man, written by Susan Zeder, is a show right for the whole family. So, make your plans to see a performance this week; Friday, Aug. 11: 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. To order tickets go to waterworksplayers.org/buytickets.