Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Also see Zander's review of Sex with Strangers
Hogan (Quentin Mare) is a lowlife: his wife has left and his daughter, going to college in New York City, an hour south, does not speak with him. He has inherited from his father a cabin, complete with a stove that is fairly dysfunctional, problems with water, and furnishings which look as if everything, including its owner, are broken. He is desperate to rent the place for the coming summer. Veronica (Lynnette R. Freeman) arrives and explains that she is a nurse practitioner whose husband has died. She has two young children and is gratified that Hogan will rent to her. African-American, Veronica has had another owner figuratively slam the door in her face as she approached a cottage.
There is a lake behind Hogan's summer "home" and he boasts about the swimming possibilities and a promised dock for the kids. Veronica, in a flash, decides to take a mid-August week and, after a back-and-forth about deposit and such, she writes a check. She arrives on the scene (her children and a friend remain unseen) several months later. Not much has changed, though it certainly seems as if all is spiraling downward, since hot water is a problem as is the telephone situation. It comes as no surprise that there isn't any internet service. Further, she finds that Hogan hasn't removed his own belongings, including porn magazines. On poor terms with his brother and sister-in-law with whom he intended to live, Hogan, instead, is sleeping in his truck.
Set designer Randall Parsons provides the perfectly shabby summer cabin look to accompany Auburn's text. Costume designer Hunter Kaczorowski dresses Hogan in old flannel, a hoodie, and jeans which have seen better days. He is more than a bit unkempt. Veronica, at various junctures, has her hands full just attempting to stay warm. That is especially true when she returns to the cabin, by herself, well past the seasonit is during these sequences that Auburn writes most distinctively. Each of the characters is searching, even if Veronica is, by far, the more rational of the two. Hogan, however, is not a man without feeling. In the end, it is not a stretch to empathize with both. Perhaps, ironically, each finds him or herself.
Director Daisy Walker effectively pushes the production forward. Fortunately, the actors play off one another quite well. As Hogan, Quentin Mare speaks with a cadence that sometimes sounds (but does not look) a little like Jack Nicholson'sand the voice is singular. Hogan tries to be conversational and softens the appearance of the dwelling with a line like, "Rustic's what you're lookin' for, right?" The actor provides a memorable solo moment very late. Without spoiling this, suffice to say it has to do with a hockey stick.
Lynnette R. Freeman's Veronica is direct and even caustic. She calls the place, fittingly, a rattrap. Since her own professional life is skidding, she cannot pay what was asked for a vacation spot which is so dramatically coming apart at the seams.
In all, these characters are needy. An unlikely duo, they form a symbiotic bond. The Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn space is ever so cozy as all theatergoers enjoy proximity to the stage. Lost Lake is a one act work which first appeared in Manhattan three years ago. The new production In Stockbridge has a bittersweet yet appealing feel to it.
Lost Lake continues at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, through October 22nd, 2017. For tickets, call (413) 997-4444 or visit www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.