Dobama Theatre’s Hurricane Diane is a force to be reckoned with

With each passing day there is no doubt that the health of the Earth as a living organism is in peril. After generations of pollution, deforestation, strip mining and general abuse we are on the verge of cataclysmic ruin. The cosmic clock has hit eleven-forty-five.

Enter Diane (Amiee Collier) aka Bacchus/Bromius/Dionysus in all her bold butch charm and Greek demi-god glory. In her heyday women would flock to her to “to taste her honey, gulp her wine, thrash and writhe and weep and dance and stoke animals and lie with animals and tear animals limb from limb and become animals and cry out her name over and over.”

As the times have changed the power of the gods has diminished. Diane has come back as a landscape artist with special powers who specializes in permaculture where suburban lawns are transformed overnight into lush primeval forests filled with “...a green carpet below and sun dappled canopy above. Blueberries, thimbleberries, huckleberries, pawpaw trees, chestnut trees, fragrant linden trees along with ash trees with a lush ground cover of hognut, bee balm, foxglove, awl-fruit, hawkweed, honeysuckle, bluestem grass, lupine, bladderwort and milk vetch.” Not quite the suburban lawn that we are accustomed to.

Diane has landed in the flood prone town of Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey in a cul-de-sac with four side by side suburban housewives targeted as her future acolytes. The houses boast identical floor plans giving a safe and homogeneous existence to the women’s lives. Diane’s challenge is to managed to convinced these four to join her in her worldwide crusade that will give her unlimited power, but that is the rub.

The “girls” consist of Carol (Lana Sugarman) a strictly stay indoors home body who works in the Compliance Division of a troubled major pharmaceutical firm, Renee (Colleen Longshaw) is a team leader of the popular home and garden magazine tied to a cable channel, Pam (Lara Mielcarek) is a brash Italian dragon who frets about home security and Beth (Natalie Green) a mousy recently abandoned wife is in danger of losing her home. None of these women feel completely fulfilled as they go through the motions of their daily lives. They each, however, have firm ideas of their own on what they desire in landscaping with visions of window shutters matching the hydrangea, pansies, topiary, wrought iron lawn furniture, roses and fountains which is not at all included in Diane’s plans.

One of these women will become the fly in the ointment of Diane’s conquest for plant domination but Diane is not one you dare say no to. Thus a storm is brewing among the women as yet another real life hurricane heads up the coast.

“Hurricane Diane” is the current stage offering of Dobama Theatre. It is the creation of Obie winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist Madeleine George who has managed to capture in real time the ecological crisis we now face but with a comic twist and surprise ending.

There are a number of strengths to the play. The first is the comedy that is truly laugh out loud funny. There is the individual seduction of each woman as Diane bends their will to her advantage and lastly the build up of emotion as the hurricane approaches with blinding flashes of lightning and booming peals of thunder.

As for the actors, each one is a complete individual and while a part of the collective they each inhabit their own private fantasy. Each one is a real and easily identifiable person we have all known in our lifetimes. Most important, their comic timing is impeccable which is vital as it is the counter point for what is to come. Amiee Collier as Diane is the perfect fit for the part. Her brash no nonsense butch manner combined with her empathy towards the other characters is a perfect balance. It is impossible not to fall for her charms.

As for the pacing, Director Shannon Sindelar (after the rather grand introduction of Diane) starts out the play in an almost languid timing of suburban bliss but as the show continues she begins to ramp up the action to the storm fed conclusion. Scenic Designer Jill Davis captures the very essence of the quintessential mass produced kitchens that dot the modern universe and that many wish could be their own. Lighting Designer Kevin Duchon gives a bright and airy feel in the early parts later changing to blackouts with dramatic lightning and strategically placed lanterns. Sound Designer Megan “Deets” Culley adds background sounds as well as firing up a wonderful storm. Inda Blatch-Geib clothes the actors in very stylish and appropriate form.

This show is a wondrous work of theater. It is topical without being too preachy, it uses humor to get its point across and it gradually builds to a dramatic and surprise ending. You will find that the ninety minutes (without intermission) flies by.

“Hurricane Diane” will be on stage at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland heights, Ohio through February 13, 2022. For more information or tickets go to or call (216) 932-3396.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.