The premise is sort of Big Chilly, with college friends growing up, getting tired and cranky, playing their petty-competitive word games, and wanting sex with each other. So it's pretty familiar psychographics here.
The emotional fragility of the central character, Jane (Lise Bruneau), and how it affected her friends was the focal point; in some ways, her breakdown at the end, over loss and guilt, resembled that of the "beauty queen" in the previous play, but the touchstone of honesty and integrity leading to growth is what lifted the story.
Plus the word play in This is good fun, and the cast was energetic.
|Via Facebook: Today's rehearsal of THIS featured a guest actor – three-month old Charlie Bassett. Two characters in the play have recently had a child. Charlie offered his services for a one-day appearance so our actors could experience what it was like to hold an actual baby onstage as their characters. Charlie won’t, though, be appearing onstage during the run of the show and his part will be played by a fake (but realistic looking) baby. Pictured here: (front row) Todd Scofield, Felicia Curry, Tia Shearer Bassett (Charlie’s mom), Charlie Bassett, (back row) Ryan Rilette, Michael Glenn, Will Gartshore, Lise Bruneau.|
I particularly liked the singing of Felicia Curry (as Marrell), a smoky, bluesy voice well-suited for the sad, torchy piano bar scenes underscoring the play's emotional landscape. (Original music by Peter Eldridge and arrangements, sound design by Eric Shimelonis.)
I also really enjoyed the scenic design by James Kronzer, who engineered set transitions on mesmerizing concentric merry-go-rounds.
A little off topic, it was interesting to read the program note from producing artistic director Ryan Rilette reflecting on the financial and technological challenges plaguing the theater upon his arrival last year and the upgrades made since.
By the time I arrived last year, the need for new technology had become acute. Staff struggled to work with dying desktops and Internet that was too slow to even watch a promotional video for our shows. Our ticketing and donations software didn't talk to one another, and ... [e]ven worse, the technology we use to create the work you see on stage was on its last legs.Been there. Oy.
Luckily for RHT, they had a capital campaign that actually told donors they needed new computers. It seemed to me that similar suggestions made here were either ignored or rejected as an embarrassing admission of incompetence. (How is it incompetent to be frugal with members' dues as long as humanly possible?) And this "nobody donates money for your staff's computers" suggestion is clearly an unsupported opinion. I feel a little vindicated for reaching out to our own board for handouts. We finally got our upgrade last year, too.
Written by Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Ryan Rilette
Jane: Lise Bruneau
Marrell: Felicia Curry
Tom: Todd Scofield
Alan: Michael Glenn
Jean-Pierre: Will Gartshore
scenic designer: James Kronzer
costume designer: Ivania Stack
lighting designer: Daniel MacLean Wagner
original score/arrangements/sound design: Eric Shimelonis
original music: Peter Eldridge
October 9 - November 3, 2013, in Bethesda, Maryland
Love, (that) hosaa
[published October 11, 2013, republished without changes October 25]