Review from Potomac Stages
third and final production of this new company's first
full summer season is cause for hope as well as an interesting
if mixed production in its own right. The three-show
season has given us a rarely seen Greek classic (Euripides'
"tragicomedy" Ion), a mid-twentieth
century serious verse play (Archibald MacLeish's Herakles),
and now we get an original play by Artistic Director
Paula Alprin that shows her affinity to classic theatrical
structures but also her facility for humorous dialogue.
Indeed, it also shows her ability to deliver that type
of dialogue, for she plays the character who has the
zaniest world view and shares it with all concerned.
A mother whose world was shattered by the sudden death
of her daughter in a car crash can't quite control her
mind as it merges memory and hope, denial and acceptance,
blame and guilt all at the same time. She hallucinates
at times while pulling back to deal with reality in
a semi confused state. She deals with some of the emotion
through the release of humor and some through anger.
Doubeck provides a subtle performance of the grief-crippled
mother. We don't see her at the time of her daughter's
death. We don't see all the activity that surrounds
first learning about and then dealing with the immediate
demands of tragedy. The play takes place long after
the funeral or the memorial services and all the supportive
friends have given the valued little kindnesses and
have moved on. The play is about the long term debilitating
effects of a grief that refuses to subside, and Doubeck
captures the innate fatigue that creeps into the soul
after mourning does as much as it can.
Berg is the Alexa of the mother's mind - a visage of
the youthful Judy Garland as Dorothy who went over the
rainbow in the Wizard of Oz - complete down to the ruby
slippers in one of Paula Mayes Coupe's good costumes.
Molly Bennett, an eighth grade student from Bethesda
makes a genial Virginia professional debut as Alexa's
younger sister, while AimČe Meher-Homji is the older
sister as well as other characters.
company is still struggling with the issue of how to
best use the beautiful but unorthodox theater space
where they are now the professional theater company
in residence. The space on the circular floor before
the audience tends to spread the action out, and using
the stage area behind it spreads it even more. The spaciousness,
and the time it takes to go from one area to another
or for entrances and exits, tends to make the transitions
between scenes drag, but over time, directors will find
ways to establish the pace they feel is appropriate
for each piece. In the meantime, just seeing the hall
is a pleasure.
by Paula Alprin. Directed by Susan Alison Keady. Design:
Trena Weiss-Null (set) Paula Mayes Coupe (costumes)
Theoni Panagopoulos (properties) Anne Kinkella (makeup)
Mike Egart and Michael Null (sound) Christopher O. Banks
(photography) Kimberly Gretton (stage manager). Cast:
Paula Alprin. Molly Bennett, Jennifer Berg, Karen Doubek,
Fred C. Lash, AimČe Meher-Homji , Michael Null, Tom
Pentecost, Janet Devine Smith.