A Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Glider"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Larry Stark

"The Glider"

by Kate Snodgrass
Directed by Wesley Savick

Set Design by Richard Chambers
Lighting Design by Andrew Foley
Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt
Sound Design by Haddon Kime
Props Master Monica Bauer
Dramaturg Wesley Savick
Assistant to The Director & The Stage Manager Donna Keegan
Production Manager Marc Oliviere
Stage Manager Dawn Des Lauriers

Francesca..................Laura Latreille
Estella.....................Birgit Huppuch
Christina............Kimberly Parker Green

The good news for you is that "The Glider" --- the new play by Kate Snodgrass --- will play for two more week-ends at The Boston Playwrights' Theatre. The bad news for me is that I cannot, in all conscience, tell you anything about the continually surprising intricacies holding its three sister-characters together, so all you really have to go on is my oft-repeated personal assertion that this is "the best show" of the year. So instead I'll talk about details.

The play is an hour and a half long. It is set in a summer boat-house on a Michigan lake, and the "glider" of the title is really a sofa-on-wheels that "glides" back and forth while people sit and stare out at the moonlight on the lake --- actually audience. Designer Richard Chambers has put onto the BPT's very wide, very shallow stage almost as much of the accumulated stuff of life as I saw the day before on the Huntington's huge stage for "Gem of The Ocean". There's even a tipsy rowboat behind which a pint of vodka has been hidden for twenty years. There are bird-sounds and lake-sounds and fish-leap sounds by Haddon Kime, and often shadowy or lantern-lighting by Andrew Foley that add to the experience of an old vacation-house built of bare two-by-fours and rusting nails. (What has happened in and what will happen to this house is, eventually, central to the play's impassioned conversations.)

The three sisters here are into their early forties, all revisiting the house when, after twenty years of alienation, the recent death and funeral of their widowed mother brought the successful, wilful nature-photographer sister back home. The actresses are Laura Latreille, then Birgit Huppuch, and finally Kimberly Parker Green. All three are powerful women capable of keeping or revealing secrets but rarely capable of compromise. They love each other --- and hate each other too; in other words, they're sisters!

They have been directed by Wesley Savick, whose carefully detailed vision for the play nowhere betrays his expert fingerprints. The sisters reach fever-pitch in their arguments, to the point that the only possible resolution often seems a violent one, their emotions are that intense. But in addition to shaping the action, he has orchestrated the whole in such a way that he is in total control of the audience's focus. It's not simply moving figures about on the stage--- who says what, when, moves the audience-eye from moment to emotional moment in ways that movie-makers shift focus with cuts and close-ups. In general, he rivets attention so precisely on what's happening that the story unfolds in a rush of nuanced confrontations. (And I do not mean by this that there aren't details of bubbling humor to set the serious bits in etched relief.)

But, of course, he's bringing to life a text that actresses will kill to play, once Kate Snodgrass stops re-writing and refining and submits to a publisher. I think every theatre in America --- professional, community, school --- will gladly pay royalties to give their very best actresses a crack at these roles.

And, for a mere $22 (or $15 if you're my age), you can buy the privilege, when a production comes to your town, of lazily yawning "Oh yes, I was there at its World Premiere; I don't think anyone can do it as well as the three ladies I saw --- but I want to see it again!" See for yourself!


"The Glider" (28 October - 14 November)
949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 358-PLAY

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide