Broad Horizons Theatre Company
By MARY GAGE
June Havoc Theatre Abingdon Arts Complex, 312 W. 36 St., NYC, July 28 – August 6, 2005
Directed by LEWIS MAGRUDER
Lighting ANNE E. McMILLS
Costumes CLAIRE HAYES
Stage Manager REBECCA KELLY
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES
Marie – Mary Ellen Ashley
Helen – Elizabeth Elson
Duke – Arthur French
Clay – Dante Giammarco
Gwen – Ruby Holbrook*
Sue – Cam Kornman
*played by Gwendolyn Brown at 7/28 performance reviewed
Way back when, before tape recorders and VHS machines, before DVD players and compact disks, stories, the preservation of history and legend existed as a purely oral tradition, passed on from one generation to another. EVENSONG brought this almost lost art to mind, as it presents six older people telling the stories of their lives in intertwined and technically simple scenes. Based on actual interviews, these stories resonate as real rather than enhanced for the stage.
The experiences of these folks run across continents and socioeconomic circumstances, yet there is a wonderful commonality of the human spirit in what playwright Mary Gage has gleaned from these individual tales, bringing them together as a cogent whole. EVENSONG introduces us to a wealthy but sickly girl who should never have lived, but did (Gwen), a man who began in poverty but went on to travel the world (Duke), an immigrant who worked hard all of her life and had many children (Marie), a tough talking lady surrounded by alcoholism (Sue), a boy who just wanted a sled (Clay) and a girl of means who never got over a very special white dress (Helen). These are just threads, of course, some of the details that define the characters.
EVENSONG’s ensemble cast, under Lewis Magruder’s unobtrusive direction, and with limited physicality, few props and sets that rely mainly on lighting changes to affect space and time, do some wonderful work here. Cam Kornman’s Sue, in particular, is a feisty, memorable portrayal, but all of these actors know how to take center stage as appropriate, and when to fade into the background.
Surely a less than conventional format, but one that I enjoyed, I recommend EVENSONG, especially to anyone that enjoys storytelling. More structured than a reading, and full of rich characters, you will end up feeling that you have met some real people up there on the stage, and that is never a bad thing.
- Kessa De Santis -