The River Cities' Reader begins its 25th year of publishing this Fall. With the domination of big social media, independent publishers like the Reader must establish a direct transactional relationship with its readership, or perish.

Over the decades, our readers and advertisers have repeatedly told us how important the locally-owned Reader, and its coverage, are to the Quad Cities' vitality and culture.

It's often what has kept us going.

2017 Misssippi Vallery Blues Festival Downtown Davenport, Iowa

The River Cities' Reader begins its 25th year of publishing this Fall. With the domination of big social media, independent publishers like the Reader must establish a direct transactional relationship with its readership, or perish.

Over the decades, our readers and advertisers have repeatedly told us how important the locally-owned Reader, and its coverage, are to the Quad Cities' vitality and culture.

It's often what has kept us going.

Abby Van Gerpen, Pat Flaherty, and Brant Peitersen in Buried Child

One thing I love about QC Theatre Workshop productions is that from the moment you walk into the building, you’re not walking into a converted gymnasium – you're walking into a specific space in which the story you're about to see takes place. I've previously participated in a couple of QCTW shows, one of them a Sam Shepard play, and can say that the company did a fantastic job of re-creating its space for the October 14 performance of Shepard's Buried Child. Scenic designer Matt Elliott and painter Emma Brutman have created a set that creeps you out from the moment you step foot into the playing area. The moldy walls appear to be crying, bleeding, or both, and the mold ends in jagged, sharp edges that look like bite marks, giving the whole set a sense of decomposition that fits this play perfectly.

Susan Perrin-Sallak, Brant Peitersen, and Mike Schulz in Inheritors

“The word 'theatre' comes from the Greeks. It means 'the seeing place.' It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.” – Stella Adler

The QC Theatre Workshop's latest production, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and Davenport native) Susan Glaspell's Inheritors, is rightly the place to look for one's truth in life, and to understand views on a diverse archive of social situations.

Angela Elliott, Michael Carron, Abby Van Gerpen, Laila Haley, Joshua Pride, Erin Churchill, and Jordan McGinnis in The Big Meal, photo courtesy of Jessica Sheridan and Shared Light PhotographyBefore seeing Saturday's production of The Big Meal, my wife, youngest son, and I decided to grab supper. I wanted pizza, but my wife wanted to try something different, so we landed at a little restaurant just a few blocks east of the theatre. As we ate our hummus and falafel, we chatted about family, work, the future, and life in general. Little did we know that our simple meal together would be an almost mirrored precursor to what we were about to witness on stage.

Jake Walker, Stephanie Burrough, Chris Sanders-Ring, and Kitty Israel in Love's Labour's LostWhile waiting for the Prenzie Players' Thursday-night dress rehearsal of the William Shakespeare comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost to begin, I realized it had been a long time since I had seen one of the Bard of Avon’s plays performed live. I pondered whether I would be able to follow the plot and comprehend the dialogue. I worried that the show might be too stuffy for my unrefined sense of theatre. “Holy crap, I'm supposed to write a review – what if I don’t get it?” Yet as the show began, the Prenzies put my neuroses to rest very quickly.

Brody-Tucker Ford, Sam Jones, and Brooke Schelly in The PillowmanDuring Friday's performance, the QC Theatre Workshop's The Pillowman had me in stitches. While I didn't laugh loudly often, I did chuckle repeatedly throughout the performance, only subduing my laughs out of concern that the subject of my delight was too dark to be funny. But playwright Martin McDonagh's dark comedy is both unquestionably dark and outrageously funny. I mean, it has a young girl (Laila Haley) who considers herself Christ-like proclaiming, "I don't think I'm Jesus. I [effing] am Jesus!" That is some dark comedy.

Mike Schulz and Thomas Alan Taylor in A Steady Rain, photo by Shared Light Photography's Jessica SheridanI want to see Thomas Alan Taylor bomb on stage, and actually fail to portray a role well. This isn't said out of disdain or schadenfreude, but because, to date, I've seen no evidence that he can do any wrong as an actor.

Jessica Sheridan, Mike Schulz, and Thomas Alan Taylor in Private EyesWhat starts as a theatre audition quickly becomes something entirely different in the QC Theatre Workshop's second production, Private Eyes. And this change from what's real to what's ... well ... something else is something I don't want to fully describe, because such a shift happened several times - and at very unexpected moments - during Friday's performance, making the evening a bit of an intriguing thrill that repeatedly piqued my curiosity.

Diane Emmert and Jeremy Mahr in The Rover; photo by Shared Light Photography's Jessica SheridanJeremy Mahr seems to be dancing with his dialogue as Willmore, the titular character in the Prenzie Players' The Rover. Author Aphra Behn's words trip the light fantastic off his tongue, with Mahr presenting his rakish playboy so playfully that it's as though he's fluent in the stylized, 17th Century language of the period. And when the meaning of what he's saying is expressed through his entire body - particularly during Willmore's more amorous lines - the obviously fully invested Mahr is incredibly fun to watch.

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