The Winners is a Winner
But at What Cost?
H. G. Welch
Photos By Kacie Adams
Cone Man Running’s production of The Winners is a dark and disturbing tale of gaining everything you could possibly want, but at the expense of your soul. It is an adult play, in every sense of the word. There are numerous themes, and each one goes deeper into exploring the worst parts of human nature. By the end what ever shred of respect you had for the characters is long gone, replaced with loathing. It’s an excellent play, filled fine performances and taut direction however it is very much not for everyone.
The play starts off with a lot of promise for the married couple. They’ve just won hundreds of millions of dollars in the lottery, and they’ve decided to live out their fantasies. Their first fantasy involves fulfilling all their sexual fantasies with a high price escort, who becomes the catalyst of the play. Each of the characters is seriously flawed. It’s obvious the husband isn’t comfortable with the arrangement, but he’s so henpecked he can’t deny his wife and takes his frustration out on the escort in a particularly disturbing scene. The wife thinks money can solve all her problems, even at the cost of her soul. The escort is in it for the money, but goes along with the wife’s twisted fantasy to the point where any sympathy you have for the escort is long gone.
It’s hard to talk about the play without spoiling the second act. The first act presents the obvious sins of the husband and the escort. He’s boiling with rage being subservient to his wife, the escort is milking the couple for everything she can. The wife seems to be simply trying to relive lost moments of her past, but she becomes the most monstrous of them all at the end. That’s the best and the worst part of the play, that despite the depravity and greed of the other two, even they balk at the ending. The wife gives the audience a gut punch when she reveals just how truly awful a human being she is, and no amount of money will ever change that.
The acting is top notch. It takes a lot of talent to make the audience hate the characters. Esme LeJeune is Cassie, the wife. She does the entire range of emotions, from being timid and reluctant at first then on to being manipulative and finally desperate. Michael Weems is Kurt, the husband. He portrays the husband as a true sad sack, wanting to please his wife while living his almost sadistic fantasies and tempted by the escort until he gives up in a mix of rage and horror. Avery Padilla plays Tiffany, the escort. She is both uninterested and conniving, vulnerable and predatory. David Williams’s writing is tense, there is never a moment of comedy and there is always a cloud of suspense over every scene. Winners was directed by Lindsay Boyd, she keeps the play taut. Even the slow scenes are suspenseful, as the three characters play mind games against each other at every moment.
Winners is one of the best plays to come out of Cone Man Running in a long time. It’s hard to watch at times because of the cruelty and inhumanity of the characters. Despite most of the characters being in stages of undress the majority of the show it’s not sexy at all. It’s a disturbing look at what money can’t buy you, leaving you with the feeling that even with all their millions, the husband and wife will never find what they want in life.
Winners is playing at the Beacon Theatre at
5102 Navigation Blvd until October 7.
Call (281) 972-5897 or