Doughnuts, characters all have something missing

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First Posted: 5/13/2013

Ah, doughnuts. For some, they’re a daily coffee break nosh. For others, a forbidden treat you might try to sneak.

For Arthur, they’re bread and butter, the wares he sells in the little shop his dad founded decades ago.

If you want to think about symbolism, actor James Goode pointed out, doughnuts have holes and so do the characters in “Superior Donuts,” the play the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble is presenting through May 19.

“Everyone seems to have a hole in themselves that needs to be filled,” said Goode, who portrays doughnut merchant Arthur. “He’s kind of a burned out old hippie… He sees his life as at a dead end, and he’s not yet 60.”

The character was a draft dodger who avoided service in Vietnam, and that may be when his troubles started, director Elizabeth Dowd said.

“At a critical moment, he did not fight but evaded,” she noted. “You don’t hear that much about it, but you learn that he’s stuck, and something about what happened during those turbulent times is when he started getting stuck.”

Brightening Arthur’s life, Dowd said, are the “really colorful characters that come into his shop, including the wonderful Russian immigrant who owns the DVD shop next store and a street person named Lady.”

Then there’s his new assistant, Franco, who has lots of ideas for ways to improve things – from the doughnut shop menu to Arthur himself.

“It takes a lot to crack me up on stage in performance,” Goode said. “But there’s this one scene where Franco is giving Arthur makeover advice, trying to get the old hippie to get with it a bit more. It is so funny, I’m going to have to have a handkerchief, and if I start to giggle, I’m going to bring it out.”

While neither Goode nor Dowd wants to give away too much of the plot, they said the show is about second chances and should have special appeal for the men in the audience.

“The engine of the play follows friendships between men of different generations and different races,” Dowd said. “The characters are so vivid, you feel like you’re watching a really well-written situation comedy. It has a plotline that pulls you in.”

The play does have strong language, she added. “It’s hard language and a really good heart. The journey of the play is a really rewarding journey.”

As an added treat for audience members who journey to the theater, Dalo Bakery of Berwick will supply doughnuts for intermission, just as it is supplying doughnuts for props.

“I had some fritters after rehearsal the other day,” Goode said. “They were so good.”