Dolores Hydock wows once again with "Take a Ride on the Reading"

5 of 5 stars
review by Alec Harvey, Features Editor, The Birmingham News

It's so easy to take Dolores Hydock for granted.

For years she has performed her one-woman shows in theaters and churches, gardens and living rooms. Just about anywhere you can tell a story, Hydock has done it, and she's always superb.So we've come to expect the best from Hydock, and we get it time and again.

"Take a Ride on the Reading," her latest at Terrific New Theatre, is no exception.For two hours, Hydock takes us with her on a trip to her hometown of Reading, Pa., where she returns for a high-school reunion, among other reasons. Like most of Hydock's work, "Take a Ride on the Reading" is filled with humor and touching moments, with a little bit of history thrown in for good measure.

What makes this a bit different is the subject matter. Last year's "In Her Own Fashion" is about fashion guru Ninette Griffith; Hydock's popular "Eglamore and Cristobel – A Medieval Love Story" is set centuries ago. "Take a Ride on the Reading" is all about Hydock – her family, her friends, her school, her first job and more. It's all very interesting stuff and the action flows effortlessly, a testament to Hydock's talent both as a performer and writer. This is certainly Hydock's most personal work, and it may be her best yet.

With nothing more than a chair, the outline of a window and a tree faintly drawn on a backdrop, she paints vivid pictures of the people and places of her childhood, and though we didn't grow up with her in Pennsylvania, we certainly know people just like the ones she describes.

Hydock can connect with an audience like no one else, and her talents as an actress – along with help from director Carl Stewart, no doubt -- bring a liveliness and pacing to her tales that even the best of storytellers can't compete with. It takes much more than a good story to keep an audience's attention for two hours.

Hydock makes it all look easy, which is why we probably sometimes take her enormous talent for granted. We shouldn't. Take her for what she is – a Birmingham treasure.