Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lighthousekeeping (New Leaf Theatre/DCA) 10 Things

1. While I was waiting in the lobby Artistic Director Jessica ‘movie star hair’ Hutchinson came over to say hello and thanked me for coming. Jessica is director the play I am about to enumerate for you and is also my neighbor. Here is a picture, taken from our back stairwell, of a box of kitty litter outside her apartment next to the box my crock pot came in, outside mine.

1. Did you see New Leaf’s fantastic The Man Who Was Thursday a few years ago. You didn’t? You missed it? Well…it was GREAT. Jessica directed that, too.

2. When you walk in the theatre, you hear some lively Celtic music that seems Irish. Then you realize you are in a lighthouse, with three long rows of seats on either side of the set. This may be my favorite use of the DCA Storefront space ever. The slight smoky mist: nice touch.

3. All of my knowledge of lighthouses comes from The Simpsons so this should be cool.

4. This is a play of two intertwining stories. Silver is telling us the story of how she came to take care of the lighthouse and how she came to leave as Pugh, the lighthousekeeper, is telling Silver the story of the conflicted Babel Dark and his lost love Molly. The play switches between scenes and direct address (Silver only, if I recall) to accomplish these story gymnastics. It spans quite a few years and is about many things; the nature of stories; that we don’t use linear narratives to remember our lives; growing up; and you can never go home.

5. The lights are pretty gorgeous throughout and are at times pretty breathtaking. The dress that Molly wears is [SPOLIER ALERT] two dresses, with a few little pulls of a string long underskirt appears and we travel back in time. This is pretty ingenious.

6. The acting is uniformly good. Even the kid, Caroline Phillips, who plays young Silver, is good. Can we take a second to give it up for the character actor who plays many roles and changes costumes constantly and also has to establish an entire human being with wants and needs in a matter of just a few seconds. This show is blessed with such actors.

7. Scott Ray Merchant could have his own Little Britain style variety show; he switches between the guys he plays with great ease.

8. One thing I love is when a show incorporates something that people only do outside like [SPOILER ALERT] swinging on a practical swing.

9. From my friend Katy Dailey, who came with me to the play: “I don’t know why but I am obsessed with that armchair up there with the stuffing flying out of it in mid-air. It is so dream-like.” And she is right. That detail and all the others like it make this a lovely evening at the theatre.

Go see this play!


-Anita Deely

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