It's the Holidays. Tragedy and homecoming. The Holidays. What I had forgotten is that there's a big long neck up from toney Sundance in southern Idaho that snakes all the way up to shouting distance from Canada. It's rural and folksy.. Carol's husband, Martin (excellent Phil Cass seen on video) has been a marginal dad and husband. He's been a hospital janitor who in later life has become curious about the nature of the Universe: Big Bang!! String Theory!!
Martin is dead.
It's Christmas Eve and it's Martin's passing that draws the kids back to Viola.
A touch of Pinter and Albee with a not so subtle absurdist undertones, the story evolves. bumping along with care.
Director Andrew Weyman, has already done some fine tuning with the show, workshopping it in one of PRT's intimate spaces. The show is extending through the holidays and into the new year. Good news.
So. Martin is dead.
"He was just sitting there and he was breathing. Then, he wasn't." declares Carol (Excellent Terry Davis), the mother of the two adult kids whose lives could not be more distant in life style and location. Bo is a photo journalist, documenting atrocities in far off foreign lands. Kid sister, Ally, spends eighty hour work weeks riding herd on a fleet of transportation vans a couple of hours away.
Sometimes I'll do background searches for my reviews. Google maps showed me parts of Idaho I'd never heard of! Viola, Idaho is like Pouluse, Onaway and Potlatch. The boondocks! It's another world where playwright Hunter actually comes from. The grit in this play may reflect those simple roots. The grit is palpable.
Emmy winning director Andrew Weyman declares that taking on a scary project is an exciting challenge. This play is one that at its surface may seem to be just the uncomfortable story of a family that succeeded just enough to survive. But, we go deeper. The now distant extended family has its own problems. The scary part is finding the thread that binds them, divides them, and now brings them home to unfathomable truths.
Terry Davis, as the scruffy gun totin' mom, brings credibility to the land of the lost: with her loopy lovable character. She is at once bright and articulate even in her cups, having been widowed only days before Christmas.
Bo is three years Ally's senior. The rhythms of the story bounce from brother to sister with some scrappy political banter. Ally's defense of her position turns on Business. Poor Bo is apoplectic that a gay woman would have supported a republican.
I love the beats of this play. The topic is very uncomfortable and as we come to revelation and resolution, every member of the audience must be driven to a conclusion regarding the entire business of what Life is about.
Just what is our Reason for Living?
The pure joy of seeing successful store front theatre and specifically, the Pacific Resident Theatre, guided for years by founder Marilyn Fox, whom I adore, may color this review only slightly. The fact is that this production in this ragtag little space has all the qualities of "Virginia Woolf" on Broadway or Pirandello at the Playhouse. Drive to Venice and head down Venice for Cuban at Versailles on the way. Arrive early for parking. Check the lobby of the main stage for a salty snack or a beverage.. support this production.
Then, please find a thoughtful other audience member after the show to see how the idea.. the notion of whether or not .. as Joni says.. "We are Stardust.." may be true.
The acting never shows. The tech credits and the crazy set work beautifully. It's a thoughtful evening with a few laughs and a virtual banquet: Food for Thought.
The Creative Team:
Michael Franco (Lighting Design),
Andrew Weyman (Scenic Design),
Susan Wilder (Costume Design),
Keith Stevenson (Sound Design),
James Morris (Projection Design).
Bianca Rickheim Stage Manager
A PERMANENT IMAGE
by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Andrew Weyman
Pacific Resident Theatre
Runs through January 14, 2024
(check website for schedule).
Pacific Resident Theatre is located at 703 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.
Street parking or limited free lot behind building. Tickets start at $35 online
Sunday, January 14 – 3pm
Tickets and Information:
This link may not work! I want you to see this play, so. just copy and paste into your browser and : voila..
Or.. depending on when you call? Anna is on hand as a genuine human being who can take your reservation and wish you a Happy Holiday. Just go.. Okay?