Gresham Little Theater production of dramatic depiction of common TV genre opens Friday

What happens when a playwright decides to use fiction to turn a lens toward “reality”?

That question gets addressed when Gresham Little Theater presents its latest production, “Reality TV,” written and directed by Mike Caron. The play opens this Friday, June 10, and features Britton Adams as Mark, Katrina Dawson as his wife, Heather; Ella James as Kitty their daughter and Mike Dunay as Jack the camera operator. Jeremiah Mitchell Braeback serves as the show’s technical director and designer.

The plays tells the story of Mark and Heather, who are fed up with their financial troubles and with each other.

“Mark is an unemployed marketing agent who copes with feelings of failure by bullying and ignoring his family,” Caron says. “His insecurities are compounded by believing his wife is unfaithful.”

Meanwhile, Heather is a burned out loan officer who copes by drinking too much, Caron says. Kitty successfully convinces her parents a reality show is the answer to their money problems.

Caron was inspired to write “Reality TV” by the proliferation of reality shows.

“I became increasingly frustrated with flipping through the channels for a story to watch only to be confronted at every turn by people bickering like children over the most ridiculous things — someone ignored them, someone didn’t call them back, or someone else got the attention they deserved,” he says. “My mood brightened when I thought, ‘Someone ought to write a play about the dark side of being in a reality show.’”

He knows Jack

Gresham native Mike Dunay plays camera operator Jack, who films the family. Dunay has appeared in such TV series as “Grimm,” “Leverage” and most recently “Z Nation,” and says his “Reality TV” character is somewhat introverted at first, as well kindhearted and helpful.

“As the play progresses, a more sarcastic side is revealed as well as honesty that teeters on the line between compassion and brutality,” Dunay says.

The most challenging part of playing Jack “is to not let the craziness of the family he’s filming drive me, as an actor, crazy,” Dunay says. “I have to remind myself of Jack’s perspective so that I don’t start getting too snarky or judgey with the other characters.”

Bottled up

Katrina Dawson has taught drama, among other subjects, from 2002 to 2015 at Open Door Christian Academy in Troutdale. As a person who believes in God, Dawson says one difficulty she finds in playing Heather is the fact her character lives without faith or hope. Heather “seems to be carrying the weight of the world and is ready to crumble all while trying to pass off the struggles of her life as a happy home for the camera,” she says.

Both Dunay and Dawson say audiences will relate to “Reality TV.”

“I think this play is layered with situations, relationships and circumstances that will be very relatable to the community,” Dunay adds. “Anyone who’s ever lost sight of the most important things in life — which I think is most of us — will resonate with the story.”

If you go

PLAY: “Reality TV”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, June 10-24

WHERE: Gresham Little Theater, KNOVA Learning, 740 S.E. 182nd Ave.

COST: $10 adults, $5 students


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