Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Scotland Road"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Larry Stark

"Scotland Road"

by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Lissi Engvall

Set Design by Anthony Menditto
Technical, Lighting & Sound Design by John MacKenzie
Costume Design by Helene Andersson
Sound Operator Michael Adami
Produced by Michael Tonner
Stage Crew:
Ellen Bagley, Sharon Juhansson, Rocco Sperazzo

The Woman..................Leigh Berry
Dr. Halbrech..............Rachel Kline
John......................Wayne Vargas
Frances Kittle..........Phyllis Weaver

This is easily the eeriest time I have ever spent in a theatre.
It begins with a slide-show devised by John MacKenzie --- Hovey's resident wizard --- that, through slowly cross-fading images of the sea and a slowly approaching iceberg, and photos of the ship and its passengers, evokes the doomed Titanic. Then Director Lissi Engval and her cast begin Jeffrey Hatcher's grippingly surreal play, in which no one is really what they seem.

It starts with a silent young woman who may have been a Titanic passenger, and a doctor determined to catch her in fraud. Their duel is played out with a background of ominous sounds and hauntingly unreal music chosen by the director to heighten the air of vague yet intense mystery. As tersely written scene follows scene, an obsession with what is eventually referred to as The Titanic Myth takes center-stage. Eventually, a confrontation is arranged between the woman and a recluse --- the only surviving passenger of the ship --- which leads to a shattering climax and an unbelievable denouement. And a final visual effect that is unforgettable.

And more about the plot I will not say.

But about the playing there is a great deal to say! Leigh Berry, silent and apparently uncomprehending yet aware plays the perfect contrast to Wayne Vargas' talkatively determined prosecutor. Each is intently focused every inch of the way, and they raise tension to an unbearable pitch while the audience pounces on every new possibility of solution, or at least resolution of the puzzle. Vargas plays every delicate permutation of his lines, all but twirling his turn-of-the-century mustache while he articulates language and subtext with masterful precision. Yet he is playing against the veritable iceberg of Berry's silence.

In Anthony Menditto's blandly cream-colored walls, Rachel Kline playing Vargas' assistant --- both his lackey and his connection to the contemporary world outside this antiseptic cage --- almost becomes irrelevant while the air crackles with the contest. Then, with the tension broken, Phyllis Weaver wheel-chairs in for the climactic confrontation.

I can say no more, except to apologize for this review being so late in the run. But I will give this recommendation: some years ago, Rick Lombardo directed an excellent production of "Scotland Road" at The New Repertory Theatre.
But the Hovey does it better.


"Scotland Road" (12 - 27 November)
Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide