VINEYARD THEATRE

Douglas Aibel, Artistic Director

Bardo S. Ramirez, Managing Director

Jennifer Garvey-Blackwell, Executive Director, External Affairs

presents

THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME

By PAULA VOGEL

Vineyard Theatre

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

Cast

Mark Blum – Randy Graff – Enid Graham

Catherine Kellner – Will McCormack – Sean Palmer

Puppeteers

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 -

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