Most people will think of “Hollywood” in terms of glamorous “stars” walking on red carpets with lights flashing. They will conjure up visions of designer clothing and luxury cars. But if your heart or mind has evolved from Dixie you are more apt to think in terms of a NASCAR driver as a “star” with a powerful car holding magnificent trophies and living large. But the realities of both Hollywood and the NASCAR circuit don’t always present glory and joy. Sometimes things change and not always for the better. This is the essence of the story woven by master playwright and screenwriter the late great John Bishop in his critically acclaimed play “The Trip Back Down.”
After a successful career NASCAR star Bobby Horvath has a near death experience that moves him off of the race circuit and back to his hometown where his past, present and future all come together with some very intriguing and gripping consequences. The story of the “The Trip Back Down” once shined on Broadway but is now illuminating the stage at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, California.
Nick Stabile stars as Bobby Horvath. Stabile comes to the show with an MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory and an impressive list of film and television credits. His performance on stage at the Whitefire Theatre in “The Trip Back Down” is a full bore exhibition of how the craft is correctly executed. He is superb. The entire cast was truly five star with Kevin Brief (Frank), Robb Derringer (Super Joe Weller), Larrs Jackson (Will Horvath) and Lily Nicksay (Jan) shining especially bright on opening night.
So how was the show overall? Well the first thing I noted was how Spartan the stage was. I mean in the beginning there was no apparent set and I wondered how matters would evolve. During the course of the show various set elements did appear as needed but throughout the entire visual picture was literally projected via multimedia on the stage backdrop. It was quite effective and a brilliant effort on the part of Projection Designer Corwin Evans.
The overall presentation was punctuated with a fairly steady flow of brilliance but did suffer from a feeling that it just seemed to be a bit too long. Despite the numerous and memorable high points I did get the feeling that the pace got a bit too slow towards intermission and beyond. The gentleman sitting next to me, himself an accomplished actor, agreed with my observation. But we both concluded that with a little polishing and adjustment “The Trip Back Down” could and would emerge as the quality work it truly is. So with that one negative observation aside “The Trip Back Down” is a compelling and intriguing story told by an excellent cast and supported by a quality crew and it does move and entertain the audience.
“The Trip Back Down” is playing at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California 91423 now through March 29, 2014. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm. Reservations and ticket information is available by calling 323-960-7712 or online at: www.plays411.com/trip. Buckle up and enjoy a trip back down.