The Boomerang Theatre Company

presents

DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES

By J.P. MILLER

 

Walkerspace

46 Walker Street, NYC

(212) 501-4069 or www.theatremania.com

www.boomerangtheatre.org

 

October 3 – 18, 2003

 

Directed by RACHEL WOOD

Sets HARLAN PENN

Lighting SCOTT DAVIS

Costumes JESSICA GAFFNEY

Sound ERNIE RICH

Fight Director CARRIE BREWER

Stage Manager CHRISTOPHER THOMASSON

Press Representation SPRINGER/CHICOINE PR

 

Cast

Jim Hungerford – Paul Schnee

Joe Clay – Mac Brydon

Kirsten Arnesen Clay – Laura Siner

Mr. Trayner/Ensemble – Ronald Cohen

Rad Leland/Ensemble – John Flaherty

Ellis Arnesen – Wally Carroll

Debbie Clay – Victoria Rosen

Mrs. Nolan/Ensemble – Margaret Flanagan

Nell/Ensemble – Andrea Judge

Ensemble – Philip Emeott, Montgomery Maguire

 

Mac Brydon, Laura Siner.

Boomerang Theatre Company has chosen to end their fifth season with a brief revival of J.P. Miller’s DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. They have chosen to mount a very literal interpretation, and one that is housed, appropriately, in a dim, dismal set filled with characters that flutter about, and most significantly, an overwhelming sense of darkness.

For anyone unfamiliar with the play, DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES introduces us to adman Joe and co-worker Kirsten. Joe is a drinker. Kirsten socializes. They wed, and soon they have both found that, with a live-in drinking buddy, the distant specter of alcoholism has come home early, often and to roost. A sad tale, but one that could be of hope and the triumph of the human will, what one takes from it is what one makes of it.

Now, I get the philosophy behind the design and the direction in this particular DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. The set is an oval series of plank-like structures of different heights, suggesting a rag-tag assortment of flooring and boardwalks that was slapped together as the only structure available, much as one desperate for any sort of shelter will find a home on the street inside a cardboard box. That symbolism would be hard to miss. I also get that the random folks sitting in this almost-circle represent the attendees of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and that the randomness is deliberate. I even get the direction, often calling for the actors to have their backs to the audience (who are, by the way, in a horseshoe around the oval). I get it all, yet somehow, this take on the vicious cycle of alcoholism just did not satisfy me artistically.

Part of the problem has to do with the large quantity of exposition. Some of what are potentially the most dramatic, if difficult, scenes to stage are narrated, and so never staged beyond speech. In a play, like DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, where so much of the ultimate impact has to do with the cumulative effect of watching two everyday people fight a common, everyday disease that has taken them to extraordinary lows, the audience must see and see and see again.

The exposition is paired with another problem. Although very well-meaning, the play can come off as a PSA (public service announcement) for AA that has been imposed by the courts as sentence for a drinker caught driving under the influence. Avoiding that aspect requires some innovation, and a deliberate eye toward the opposite. Here, when paired with the aforementioned staging, avoiding that pitfall is all but impossible. Also, this DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, while hitting some very dramatic notes, does not feature performances that suggest the characters have really hit the skids. The actors try, but I never saw them as genuinely pathetic.

This all said, this DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES still got to me, and left me feeling unsettled. With all of the negatives factored in, J.P. Miller’s script still packs one hell of a punch. I did not love the production, but it drew emotion from me, and that says a lot. This is not an easy play to sit through. It was never meant to be.

- Kessa De Santis -

Archives    Listings