DOORS OPEN WALK THRU
13TH STREET PLAYHOUSE
REVIEW BY Inola M. McGuire
The first play of the evening was “Whole Against the Sky” written by Susan Merson, directed by Shellen Lubin, designed by Matthew Gandolfo and performed by four actors. The setting of this play was Sarah’s living room and her memory. The play begins with Sara sitting on one side of her living room and Jake on the other side. They begin to reminisce about their lives together in the many different stages of their relationship.
Within minutes, a younger couple enters the stage to represent the memory of Sara and Jake. Both couple was in unison when they reminisce about their journey in an uncharted territory. It was refreshing to hear the couple reflecting on their trip during their honeymoon that had twists, turns, ascending and downhill encounters. They had to navigate through all of these obstacles that were thrown at them as a young couple. The couple’s six- week vacation on the road through the Mediterranean region seems as an educational experience for people who are into cultures and enjoying each other’s company as a bonus.
As an older couple, Sara and Jake live on their memories which enhance their time together. They appreciate their lives together although the zest was out of their marriage. The cycle of life is present in this play and the writer surely convinces the audience by a certain level of sophistication in the dialogue.
The audience was mesmerized by the interaction of the actors and their dialogues because they describe a whole life time of adventures in a very short space of time. The couple’s shared experiences and culture shock give the audience an evening of exultation. I will surely recommend others to see this play because it will take you out of the American landscape, and allow the audience to get a glimpse as to how other people live in other parts of the world.
The second play of the evening was “Ron the Contortionist” written by Susan Merson, directed by Shellen Lubin, designed by Matthew Gandolfo and performed by two actors. The setting of this play was a quiet afternoon in a restaurant, Ron’s car, and Sarah’s bedroom. The play begins with Sara and Ron sitting in a restaurant conversing with each other at a table. They engage in conversation where Ron tries to unburden himself of a secret. However, he beats around the bushes with his secret. Sara tries to accommodate Ron in a charming manner before they leave the restaurant for their next activity of the afternoon.
Sara’s character mentioning the drinking of mint tea instead of Espresso coffee in the play suggests to the audience that Sara’s character has something special on her mind for Ron. She suggests that Mint tea creates a stimulating effect when consume after 2:00 pm although they discuss dessert, careers and relationships. Both characters have issues with touching. Ron’s character was touched too much throughout his life and career and Sara’s character has a longing to touch and being touched.
In the car setting, both actors continue to talk about their lives; and Sara probes Ron for information. She talks about her husband and life in New York City with her aunt with Ron and he divulges tidbit his two failed marriages. Sara’s character touches Ron and he almost jumps out of his skin. Sara’s touch causes a sudden impulse in his response. Ron hints a little more about his secret. Sara tries to be patient. The audience seems curious to hear what was burdening this poor man. It surely aroused my curiosity to learn more about this secret. However, the writer places the setup at the beginning of the play and the audience’s expectation was heightened. The suspense was awesome and it created an edgy moment for me.
Now, the moment of revelation in Sarah’s bedroom setting forces Ron to tell Sara about his experience with his trainer from start to finish. The audience was mesmerized by his dialogue. To me, Ron describes a man being groomed to be a homosexual instead of a heterosexual male. Sara looks of bewilderment as she sits next to Ron changed the mood of the audience. After Ron unburdens himself with the blow-by-blow disclosure of his secret, he gets dress and leaves the room.
The writer wants the audience to see and know about the perils of dating during midlife. She wants women and men to ask the right questions before they get involved with their prospective partners. Most people have a story to tell or they may need to unburden themselves before they are right or ready for a meaningful relationship. I will recommend others to see this play because there are lessons to be learned and insight to gain by many baby boomers in our society.
The third play of the evening was “Sido’s Garden” written by Susan Merson, directed by Shellen Lubin, designed by Matthew Gandolfo and performed by two actors. The setting of this play was a stone house in the French countryside and Lulu’s apartment back home. The play begins with Sara entering the home and speaking on her cell phone with a French bread in her hand as she anticipates preparing a meal. On the other side of the stage that represents the apartment, the daughter lies in her bed.
Sara makes a writing pad out of the paper bag her bread was in, and she writes a letter to her daughter on it. In the meantime, the audience sees the daughter lying in her bed in her apartment. The two different locations in the play are visible to the audience as the ladies navigate through their individual life. Later in the play, the daughter reads the letter she receives from her mother, as the mother verbalize her written words to her daughter at the other location. The repetitions of the same letter by both women increase the intensity of the discourse between them through correspondence.
This was a great moment for the audience to appreciate the importance of the written words and the healing effect they can generate for humanity. With today’s technological advancements, the art of writing has been dumb down to fewer words on electronic devices. However, being able to put your thoughts on paper is a valuable skill, and the writer proves her point to the audience.
Being in countryside has a tranquil effect on people who enjoy nature. The contrast between both scenes gives the audience a moment to compare the locations. In my mind, I think the mother’s character wants to hold on to her experiences and she teaches her daughter about life’s brushes, scrapes, and bruises without too much difficulty. It is a great thing to be ushered through life by learning from other people’s experiences, being blunders or meaningful decisions.
When both actors change place on stage, the audience was able to see the importance of the human interaction. The writer allows the audience to see how the older character can reflects on her life, and this can become a blueprint for others to emulate in time of need.