Thunder vs. Bulls: Five takeaways from OKC's win vs. ChicagoMillwood High School pulls basketball team off court amid COVID 'super-spreader' at Community Christian

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

'Worthy Causes' raises worthwhile questions

Oklahoma City-based playwright Rodney Brazil and Next Stage Productions has brought his latest work to the Paseo in the world premiere of “Worthy Causes” which runs through Saturday, September 18.

When fighting for a just cause, what are the effects on others? How do our actions cause greater ripples in society than we might like? What do we do when we face unexpected consequences of good intentions? Just what does the road to hell look like?

This is the subject matter of “Worthy Causes” with the stellar cast of Todd Clark, Brett Young, Holly, McNatt, Claire Powers, Crystal Ecker, and Scotty Taylor. Directed by Brazil, with a deft touch, this is a production worth your time.

Powers plays Allison, a woman of mysteriously shifting identity. Landing eventually in a Dallas boutique managed by Dolores (McNatt) and with enthusiastic co-worker Brad (Taylor), she is suddenly confronted with a part of her past in the person of Patrick (Young). Then Ecker and Clark, as the couple Frances and Martin, take everyone hostage seeking revenge—for something that may not have happened.

Anything more gives away too much of the careful work Brazil has done to build the story. Each actor brings a number of layers to the production, and each shines a particular light on the problems of trying to help people in desperate situations. The angel troubled the waters of Bethsaida so that the blind man could see, but we don’t know if he liked the world he looked upon. This is Brazil’s central theme, and his story carries it well. The set-up, at first oddly disconnected, is interesting and compelling enough to bring us along for at least some of the ride; by the time the story gets into full swing, we are glad to be getting some clues.

Powers gave an affecting performance as the woman running from consequences, perhaps to make amends and perhaps to avoid doing so. Her swings from mostly confident to somewhat insecure were believable and sane—we are not, we never were, dealing with a crazy woman. Someone really is out to get her—but it may be that she wants, just a little, to be got.

Young as her partner in social justice crusading—and undercover identity shifts—is equally believable as the idealist with a somewhat clearer vision. He is necessarily more solid than Allison; it’s clear that Patrick is both zealous and in need of a stabilizing anchor, which he has missed.

Ecker and Clark are both the passionate and damaged people seeking some external comfort. They had hoped to find it by finding Allison, and both actors, in different ways, show us their confusion, their disappointment, and their inner anguish.

McNatt is the grounding center of the play. Her Dolores is almost fearlessly in control—almost suspiciously so. Her inner core of strength and courage is only revealed by allusion—a subtlety that lifts the play to a higher level of drama, without over-emoting or underlining the obvious. McNatt is able to carry this layered and solid role with grace and deftness.

Scotty Taylor is almost typecast as the comic relief. His Brad brushes by a number of amusing stereotypical mannerisms and attitudes while never actually leaning on any of them. This lets his very human character give us the breathing space we need to cope with the trauma on stage.

Next Stage Productions is a tight team of people; sets were designed by Brazil and Clark, costumes were by Keith Ferguson and Taylor; sound was designed by Brazil, and Ferguson served as stage manager and house manager.

Brazil has staged the play in a small space that does not feel small, making excellent use of sets that refer and indicate rather than represent. Store shelves are populated with photographs of the items on sale, making the changes from convenience store to hardware store to boutique very nearly seamless. The decoration of each location was just enough to make it real. This is a very portable production.

The last two shows are Friday and Saturday night at 2920 Paseo, in the studio theatre of Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. Curtain is at 8:00 and tickets can be reserved on line at or by calling 405-367-3774.