Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

Well
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Review by David Edward Hughes

Also see David's review of The Pajama Game


Sarah Rudinoff
and Barbara Dirickson

Photo by Alan Alabastro
Playwright Lisa Kron came back into the forefront of the American theatre with her solidly well-received book and lyrics for Fun Home (whose national tour will come through Seattle later this season at the 5th Avenue), but she first drew attention to herself with her autobiographical play Well which she first appeared in as "herself" in 2004. Under the deft and never heavyhanded direction of Braden Abraham and with an ideal cast, the Seattle Rep's production is at times painfully hilarious, touching, and always relatable.

In her "solo show with people in it," Kron focuses on her family "medical history and the Lansing, Michigan neighborhood where she grew up to knit together issues of health and illness both in the individual (her chronically unwell mother Ann Kron, a semi-invalid) and in a community." At the top, the Lisa character (portrayed by Sarah Rudinoff at her considerable best), announces "This play is not about my mother and me," which is the only dishonest thing in Kron the playwright's script. As the play progresses, Lisa tries to discuss her past in Michigan and her mother. However, Ann corrects Lisa's version of their past, and the other actors leave their assigned roles and instead talk with Ann about her life. The rest of the sterling supporting cast go from playing "themselves" to characters out of Lisa's past who in some cases take on a life that Lisa doesn't recall or want to recall. The tight but never rushed 90-minute play says more about the human condition than many more venerable playwrights have managed in their entire careers.

Perhaps the reason that Lisa the playwright and Rudinoff as the person meld so well is that both are so adept as monologists, but regardless, Rudinoff is also such a grand stage "listener" that you also watch and delight in her own reactions to what the other characters are saying. Certainly, Barbara Dirickson (a Seattle staple too long away from our stages) gives her plenty to listen to as Ann Kron, making her the mother we all might wish for, as long as she is someone else's. Dirickson could scarcely be more endearingly, eccentrically lovable in the role, and the pair of them make the best double act in town in recent memory.

Embodying several characters each, Chantal DeGroat, Adrian LaTourelle, and Reginald Andre Jackson are all staunch, though Liz McCarthy as Joy, a bundle of neuroses who was Lisa's roommate in an allergy clinic, and diminutive Emma Blessing as Lori Jones, Lisa's schoolyard days nemesis, stand out.

G.W. Skip Mercier's scenic design flows effortlessly from its two key locales (Ann's home and the clinic's patient ward rooms), accompanied by excellent lighting design by L.B. Morse, and Deb Trout's well-realized costume designs.

Lisa Kron is a shrewd but not caustic observer of the human comedy, and Well is a jewel box of a triumph for all concerned with this production.

Wellruns through March 5, 2017, at the Seattle Repertory Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer Street in Seattle Center. For ticket information and more go to www.seattlerep.org.


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