Theatre Mirror Reviews - "More Than What"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Larry Stark

"More Than What"

by Janet Kenney
Directed by Joe Antoun

Assistant Director Kaycie Alanis
Scenic Design by Ray McGettigan
Lighting Design by John Tibbetts
Sound Design by Nathan Leigh
Costume Design by Katherine Perry-Lorentz
Props Master Tara Wiseman
Assistant Stage Manager Carl Danielson
Stage Manager AB Commendatore

"The Woman You Deserve"

Jack...Mike Dorval
Dave.....Jeff Gill

"Maybe It's Just Dust"

Andrea.....Ellen Adair
Melody...Sarah Augusta
Eve....Nikki O'Carroll

"Why You Have To Be Careful"

Stephie...Christine Power
Jack..........Mike Dorval

"Ma in Her Kerchief"

Ruth....Donna Sorbello
Melody...Sarah Augusta

"The Space Beside Me"

Uncle Bob...Harold Withee
Melody......Sarah Augusta

"The Way You Laugh"

Ruth....Donna Sorbello
Dave.........Jeff Gill

"More Than What"

Andrea.....Ellen Adair
Melody...Sarah Augusta
Eve....Nikki O'Carroll
Jack.......Mike Dorval

This show is like a big seven-piece jigsaw-puzzle. Each piece is a full, self-contained play with delicately detailed insights glistening in among the realistic, everyday actions and arguments that a church-wedding always generates. But when you get them all put together, the insights link up in several directions, and the result isn't a scattergun collection, but a full, warm portrait of two families --- becoming one. I had seen some of them before (maybe you did, too), but never so beautifully interpreted, never linked together so carefully. (I'm told that's Director Joe Antoun's doing. Bravo Joe!) So I may say more than I should to an audience expecting to experience all this for the first time. If that's you, ignore the rest until you're back home. Then, if this doesn't describe What You Saw, write me and tell what I left out.

The playwright, Janet Kenney, skips around in time, starting with father and son trying to dress for the ceremony, trying to be flip about being serious, and dropping little self-revealing hints about themselves. Then it's the bride and her sisters, trying to include their dead father in the ceremony and brooding less on death than on their attitudes toward it. There's death in the next one too, the sudden death of the groom's brother-in-law, a father of two flower-girls --- a death their mother still resents, leaving the groom a surrogate father even before his own marriage.

Funny how deaths intrude themselves on the beginning of a new life together, isn't it? The next play barges into the all too temporary future, with the mother of the groom, her chemo-shorn head in a kerchief, aware she is trying to get through her last Christmas living with the girl who has now become the "Mrs." in the family. And then the playwright skips again, back to the wedding rehearsal, to her Uncle Bob who'd like to do what he can't --- take her father's place marching up the aisle where he will answer "I do!" to the question "Who gives this bride away today?"

Back up a couple of weeks, and the parents of the groom --- with all we now know about the pair of them --- try to pick out appropriate songs for the reception while swapping a quite fond banter about their own failed marriage, avoiding both recrimination and sentimentality. Maybe this play is about the death of someThing not someOne, butthe chuckles are inescapable.

The title-play is six hours after the ceremony, Katherine Perry-Lorentz's costumes make these three sisters prettier than pictures, the playwright makes them daffy as teen-agers, and the spell of the day makes everything --- no, really, Everything! --- perfectly Beautiful.

I'd plod rather flat-footedly through spraying compliments on all the actors (They are, throughout, perfectly beautiful), but should that really be necessary? They handle Tara Wiseman's carefully minimal props themselves, and Nathan Leigh's precisely apt entr'act music keeps the audience from applauding each piece of the puzzle --- but you can just feel them Wanting To, until the final curtain. Maybe most marriages out in the real world don't manage to be this luminously, perfectly beautiful. This one, though, pretty much makes up for that.

There's one more week-end; see for yourselves....

( a k a larry stark)

"More Than What" (23 February - 10 March)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide