Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Strange Snow"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"Strange Snow"

by Stephen Metcalfe
Directed by Jery Bisantz

Assistant Director Ann Garvin
Lighting Operation Simon Londono
Set Construction by:
Jerry Bisantz, Jack Dacey, Joe Deguglielmo,
Bob Stachel, Simon Londono
Stage Manager/Sound Operator Ann Garvin

Megs..........John Carozza
Martha........Sharon Mason
David..........Bob Stachel

The "Standing O" has become an inevitable tradition; and it is impressive to see people on several floors of a big Broadway house leap --- or sometimes rise reluctantly --- to their feet as stars come on for their bows. But last night I may have seen the start of a brand new tradition. After the production of Stephen Metcalfe's searing post-war play "Strange Snow" upstairs at the Old Court Pub in Lowell, the cast took their curtain-calls (as blocked) to enthusiastic applause and disappeared --- but the applause in that sold-out house never stopped. Some stagehand had to run backstage and roust three flustered actors back onstage for one more bow before anyone rose to go.

The play that garnered this tribute deals with three different sorts of self-hatred as a constant sub-text. The single day of change for these characters opens before dawn on the opening day of trout-fishing season, with loud, out-going Megs (John Carozza) trying to call his war-buddie friend out of a hangover to sneak up on the unsuspecting fish. But the one he wakes --- in several ways --- isn't David (Bob Stachel) but his schoolteacher/housekeeper sister Martha (Sharon Mason). Without ever taking this trio out of the same living-room/kitchen set, their conversations describe a hilariously unsuccessful fishing excursion, cruel memories both of high-school prom and deadly combat in Viet Nam. By play's end, with experiences and emotions faced, the trio manages to help one another change and faces a perhaps brighter future.

As Megs, John Carozza is bubblingly loud, admitting he'd rather be laughed at than ignored, that only luck brought him through jack-knifed semi-trucks and combat wounds. But he is equally quick to apologize for an overworking mouth because he Has been laughed at rather than with.

Unlike him, Stachel's David was a star in high-school, but a frightened soldier. He punnishes himself with driving truck and binge-drinking on week-ends because he feels his fear brought about the death of their much-admired third musketeer Bobby.

For Sharon Mason's Martha the problem is her clear-eyed awareness of herself as an unpretty woman. She was head of the decoration-committee but not invited to her own prom until her brother threatened to beat up his friends if they didn't. And brother and sister are both doubtful when Megs says he sees a glow of beauty beneath her surface.

This play reveals its secrets grudgingly, after quick hints in words and in sudden shifts in temperature while people try to be civil until the surface must be broken. This review says too much but shows much too little of the subtlety, sincerity, and emotion this trio of actors bring to an unforgettable play.

And The Old Court will have a cold Guinness waiting for you in the act-break.


"Strange Snow" (14 - 22 May)
@ The Old Court, 2931 Central Street, LOWELL MA
1 (781)893-9171
"Marathon" (11 - 21 March)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide