2022 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Green Machine’ by Jim McNeill

A well-paced dramatic comedy about a pop-up pot shop in Mt. Pleasant.

Urban Idyll Theater presents the DC-centered Green Machine, by playwright Jim McNeill, at the Capital Fringe Festival. The show is a well-paced dramatic comedy with a modern storyline about a weed shop in Mt. Pleasant. The storyline touches on the history of gentrification in the neighborhood, socio-economic disparity, and the challenges of attempting to run a successful business without bending any rules.

Catherine Aselford directed this piece, which takes place entirely inside the newly opened shop, containing one table with some chairs. The pop-up pot shop has a trio of investors, each with a different vision for the store.

Corbin, played by understudy Stephen Patrick Martin, is a gruff, no-bullshit old stoner who has lived in the neighborhood for decades and hates the way the area has transformed into a primarily white, wealthy community. He’s a silent partner and scoffs at the new fad of tinctures and gummies, wishing for the days when weed was weed and the neighborhood was full of diversity.

Leon (James Lewis), whose dad was well-known by Corbin, runs the shop with business partner Mike (Nick DePinto). Leon is a realtor and has appreciation for progress and development but also a deep respect for roots and tradition. He butts heads with Mike, who is pushing for an angel investor from Colorado to pump money and product into the store.

Mike is from a wealthy family, but his hippie, lackadaisical lifestyle has become a drain on his family’s finances. He is also willing to turn a blind eye and distribute illegal pot from his supposedly legal establishment. Mike’s goal is a lucrative business, regardless of shortcuts.

But Mike is not a bad guy. He is simply naive and has been sheltered from failure.

The owners battle with one another over the risk of allowing an outside party to take such a large stake in a small business. Will they become the corporations they despise? Is this investor’s intentions pure? Can’t they just push forward, work hard, and make the business work without the investment?

The basic premise of Green Machine is compelling. The characters are very interesting and the dialogue was sharp and natural. The show feels like the starting point of something more.

Performances of the entire cast were very enjoyable and the production has all the potential of being a full-fledged show (or a series of short plays?). What was lacking was the connection of all the presented ideas. The playwright introduced complex layered characters that needed to be explored but did not get the chance.

Mike has a sister, Mary (Shari L. Lewis), who seems stiff and prudish but we learn she has been in her share of trouble. She’s a lawyer, successful in career but troubled in life.

Mary’s son, Ignatius (Anthony De Souza), is a student who was helping at the store. He has a deep appreciation for the architecture of DC. Ignatius and Corbin have a great conversation where each fails to comprehend the value of the other’s admiration. Corbin finds beauty in the rich history of a run-down building, while Ignatius can see only ruin. And Corbin sees nothing good in a soulless structure, regardless of design. The potential of this debate is fascinating but unexplored.

And the new local Officer Taylor (Natalie Graves Tucker) wants local businesses to succeed and understands the gray areas of regulation while maintaining a staunch adherence to the law. There is a history to her that is hinted at, which shaped her into who she is. I wanted to hear that story.

Green Machine overall was a great show. The actors did a wonderful job and I left feeling entertained. But I also left wanting more and lacking resolution. There was essentially too much substance left unaddressed. Still, I suggest catching this one because the experience is definitely worth it. And I would love to see more from this playwright and crew.


Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.

Green Machine plays two more times — July 22, 2022, at 7:45 pm and July 23 at 4:45 pm — presented by Urban Idyll Theater at HOME RULE – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.

COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.

Genre: Drama
Age appropriateness: Recommended for Children 13 + older

Corbin: Terence Aselford, Mike: Nick DePinto, Ignatius: Anthony De Souza, Leon: James Lewis, Mary: Shari L. Lewis, Officer Taylor: Natalie Graves Tucker, Corbin u/s: Stephen Patrick Martin

Creative/Production Team
Playwright: Jim McNeill,  Director: Catherine Aselford, Stage Manager: Laura Schlachtmeyer

SEE ALSO: 2022 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘Green Machine’ by Richard Byrne


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