Educational Nightmare

By Dan and Alison Tingley

All An Act Theatre Productions is currently presenting Oleanna, written by David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Glengarry Glen Ross. Nicholas R. Kikola directs this provocative drama. Oleanna premiered in 1992 in Cambridge, Massachusetts where it starred William H. Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon. In 1994, it was made into a movie also starring William H. Macy.

Oleanna is a disturbing examination of two characters involved in a struggle for control in a downward-spiraling situation. John is a pompous, self-involved professor with a tenure application up for review and a bid on a new house for his family. Carol is a confused student who comes to John for help. At first he is dismissive of Carol’s problems, then he decides to personally educate her offering her an ‘A’ if she will come to his office for more tutoring. John also tries to forge a more personal relationship with Carol in an effort to show that he understands her problems. Things take a horrible, horrible turn from there. But we don’t want to spoil the show for anyone.

This production stars David W. Mitchell as John and Erika Krenn as Carol. There’s a lot of dialogue. Holy memorization, Batman! Mitchell’s high energy and emotion carries throughout the show. He does a fantastic job of playing an arrogant ass who loses control of a situation and of himself. You can see Mitchell gradually lose control as the play progresses, while at the same time, he masterfully commands the stage. Krenn’s delivery is a bit stiff and delayed, but she still gets her point across. Both actors do a fantastic job of making the audience feel uncomfortable.

Kikola does a great job of directing what must have been a very difficult play to direct. The set and costumes are appropriate.

Oleanna runs on weekends through August 25. The show sparks anger, outrage, and debate – just as it is intended to do. It’s controversial, dark, and disturbing. We really liked that about the play. As the program says, “Whatever side you take, you’re wrong.” It will definitely leave you with a lot to talk about. Visit the website at or email for more information.