Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Still Life: A Documentary"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Larry Stark

"Still Life: A Documentary"

by Emily Mann
Directed by Robb Bettencourt

Costume Design by Ginny Yang
Lighting Design by Bryan Bettercourt
Projection Operator Karen D. Weeks
Set Design by Robert Bettencourt
Stage Manager Angela Duffy

Cheryl...Alison Meirowitz
Nadine.....Carla Whittley
Mark.........Braden Weeks

I found out early that, in order to do this job properly it was best to learn to blink often and rapidly and let the tears leak out the bottom of my beard, in order to see what I was reviewing. And that trick came in handy watching this take-no-prisoners examination of the horrified mental traumas of a Vietnam veteran, as well as the battered wife and understanding mistress he tries to live with. The subtitle of "Still Life" (A Documentary) is as apt as the heavily metaphorical title itself: the play is in the form of one of those t-v docs that cut quickly from isolated person to person for quickly bitten comments and extended memories from three hardly moving individuals speaking directly to the audience/camera. But this isn't the cool medium; these are live people breathing the same air you do, and edging tentatively toward the brutal truth of their connected lives. And there's only one week-end more to the run.
It's well worth your time. It's unforgettable.

Carla Whittley is a commercial painter sitting stage-right, a 42-year-old divorcee supporting three children on two jobs whose ex excouraged her to beat him up as an expression of her love. Alison Meirowitz is a pregnant wife hoping to protect her infant son from her husband's uncontrollable rages. Braden Weeks is a nighmare-obsessed veteran trying to explain, to understand, to forget the terrible sins he committed while a marine in-country with the permissions free-fire-zones allowed him and his fearful, frustrated fellow marines. Focus shifts quickly from face to face, while a screen behind the action displays harrowingly pertinent photographs from 'Nam this self-confessed pack-rat cannot throw away. He is trying to make tiny recreations of his combat experiences and to seal them away into glass mason-jars. But they never stay put.

His simple message as an artist is that War Kills People --- marines kill people.
Then they come home and try to forget.

I don't think you need to know any more. Except that Robb and Bryan Bettencourt, Ginny Yang, Karen D. Weeks, Angela Duffy and a sensitive, fearless cast have made Emily Mann's stunning script come alive, not on the t-v screen but, unavoidably, right in your lap.
See it.
But learn to blink.

( a k a larry stark )

"Sill Life: A Documentary" (5 - 20 January)
Devanaughn Theatre, off Northampton Street behind 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 252-2772

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide