Douglas Aibel, Artistic Director
Bardo S. Ramirez, Managing Director
Jennifer Garvey-Blackwell, Executive Director, External Affairs
THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME
By PAULA VOGEL
108 E. 15 St., NYC
(212) 353-0303 or www.vineyardtheatre.org
October 14 – December 7, 2003
Directed by MARK BROKAW
Sets NEIL PATEL
Costumes JESS GOLDSTEIN
Lighting MARK McCULLOUGH
Original Music & Sound Design DAVID VAN TIEGHEM
Projection Design JAN HARTLEY
Puppetry Conceived & Designed by BASIL TWIST
Choreography JOHN CARRAFA
Stage Manager MICHAEL McGOFF
Press Representative SAM RUDY
Mark Blum – Randy Graff – Enid Graham
Catherine Kellner – Will McCormack – Sean Palmer
Matthew Acheson – Oliver Dalzell – Erin K. Orr
Marc Petrosino – Sarah Provost – Lake Simons
Musician – Luke Notary
Paula Vogel’s new play, THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME, is a bittersweet and slightly somber tale about life, consequences, and the impact of childhood trauma on adult decisions. Set on one transformative Christmas, and flashing forward some fifteen or twenty years, this is a story of small choices and large outcomes.
On the surface, it sounds like rather standard fare Ms. Vogel has taken on. On a dysfunctional family holiday, Dad (Mark Blum) dreams of infidelity, Mom (Randy Graff) muses over her husband’s many indiscretions, and the kids hear and see more than they ever should. It sounds pretty standard, but it is not. Here, the parents (credited as Narrator/Man/Woman, as the case may be) are a Jewish-Catholic couple attending Unitarian mass with the kids. At the Christmas in question, a visiting minister (Sean Palmer, in multiple roles) introduces the flock to Japanese block art. That is just the beginning.
This particular tale is relayed using a combination of live actors and puppets. The puppets, inspired by traditional Japanese Bunraku, have no strings and are typically manipulated by three puppeteers at a time, rendering their range of motion quite real. The puppets represent the three impressionable children, Stephen, Rebecca and Claire. Later on, as the actors (Will McCormack, Catherine Kellner and Enid Graham) play these same roles as adults, the shadows of other puppets will represent the lovers in these siblings’ lives. This is when the scars show. For, the romantic failures of the three children in adulthood reveal the many comeuppances in THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME.
This is a nicely packaged piece, and one that tells a difficult, even painful story in often quiet, choreographed moments. While THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME can feel like a song of lamentation at times, in the end it means to be a tale of triumph.
- Kessa De Santis -