Theatre Mirror Reviews - "PARAGON SPRINGS"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco

“Paragon Springs” at Gamm Theatre

Reviewed by Richard Pacheco

After one of the most contentious elections in American history, this play by Steven Deitz who wrote last year’s “Yankee Tavern” is particularly powerful and is based on Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People.” The resulting play is a vivid at times funny theatrical experience that is brought vividly to life as the doctor discovers some problems with the water supply for the spa, which may in fact create serious health issues. It is set in the 1920’s and puts the focus on corporate greed and the town’s self interest versus the doctors dedicated quest to expose the truth no matter the cost to him or the town. The resulting political conflict, which arises pitting brother against brother, family against family and lover against lover all for the sake of profit at all costs.

Robert Duquette is Dr. Thomas Stockman the doctor who finds issues with the spa waters and pursues it with integrity and passion and determination despite all odds. Dr. Stockman is an idealist an dedicated doctor who is sincere is his dedication to maintain his integrity and protect unsuspecting people. Duquette is solid in the role, full of fire and sincerity, deft and able in portraying the raw determination of this man to continue regardless of the circumstances against him including family. It is a persuasive and convincing performance.

Frank Piekut is Peter Stockman, Thomas’ brother and the mayor as well as chairman of the spa. He is the epitome of the politician, able to take opposing sides simultaneously, shifting direction at the slightest motivation whenever he feels it benefits him in some way. He can be ruthless and underhanded when it serves him. He is slick and nefarious always. Piekut is right on the mark in the role, the right mixture of bluster and deception He is bluster and poised for betrayal with a superficial charm.

Susan Salveston is Dr. Stockman long suffering wife. She is often an unintended victim of his dreaming and ethical determination which frequently brings a high cost for her and her family. She is resolute and faithful in her unrelenting dedication to her husband. Salveston is fine in the role, poised and dedicated. Vanessa Lima is daughter Lorna who is often the voice of reason in the difficult times. She is dedicated to her father because he taught her to be an individual. Lima is sincere and determined in the role, full of energy and conviction.

Manny Moitoso is editor Eric Hovstad who is conflict between printing the truth and being concerned bout the financial status of not just the town but his newspaper which is in a financially precarious position. His turmoil is vivid and genuine and Moitoso is right on target in his portrayal in a precise and winning performance. Todd Stadler is his brother Lars, who is engaged to Loran and caught up between his loyalty to his brother and love of Lorna over the issues facing the town. He is also in conflict with Lorna’s drive for true equality.

Thom White is the realistic and somewhat callous and smug printer of the town’s newspaper. He is a mover and shaker and knows it and is not afraid to boast about it freely and frequently. White is excellent in the role, capturing the smugness and arrogant confidence with flair and convincing dash.

Dan Groves is Hollis a man in the midst of his dreams with no clear direction, but sincere. Groves delivers and deftly nuanced performance that is rich and convincing. Elizabeth Goulart is his wife, Rose, a woman who has made clear choices but is not exactly happy with them over the years. Yet she is hopeful of a better future and continues to plod on to achieve it no matter what. Goulart is perfectly restrained and sincere in the role with a vivid and convincing performance. Finally there is Kathy Bourne as the Widow Kroger how married the now dead Stockman father and is overbearing with inflated self-importance and vast supplies of ego and self confidence. Bourne is excellent in the role and provides much of the comic touches in the play with skill and flair.

Peg Holzemer directs with assurance and confidence, getting a fine ensemble performances from her excellent cast.

This is a vivid and darling production that is not to be missed.

Theatre One’s production of “Paragon Springs” continues Sunday, November 13 with a 2pm matinee; November 18 and 19 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 20 at 2pm
Alley Theatre, 133 Center Street, Middleboro. Tickets are $20 general admission; $18 for students and senior citizens. Cash only. Reservations are not necessary.
Doors open ½ hour prior to curtain. Theatre One accepts food donations for the Middleboro COA Senior Pantry at all performances.
For information call 1-774-213-5193.

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide