Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Set seven years after the flight exploded in air as the result of a terrorist-placed bomb, Brevoort focuses her plot on Bill Livingston and his wife Madeline, parents of a boy who died on the plane, as well as the inhabitants of the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland, where the scattered remains of the plane fell. The Livingstons have returned to Lockerbie to attend a memorial service which Bill hopes will be a way for Madeline, who has been in deep mourning since the bombing, to finally find closure. The fact that their son's body was never found, since he was sitting right over where the bomb exploded, and that the incident also had a lasting impact on the residents of Lockerbie only adds to the deep sense of mourning and loss the play beautiful portrays.
PVCC's cast, which is composed mainly of students, is quite good. While the play focuses on the Livingstons, and Jacqueline Anderson and Joey Whelan do well in portraying the deep sense of grief and parental anguish of the couple, it is the title characters who provide a refined eloquence and rich connection to the material. Brevoort uses this group of women as a Greek chorus who are almost always on stage as they offer a form of grief counseling throughout. BreAwna Harpe, Evann Essert, Mary Dentz, and Rachel Powell are exceptional as this group. They tell the heartwrenching, yet cathartic, stories of what they experienced the day of the crash, and how their remembrances form a way to heal the wounds, including their own. Through the words these women so eloquently speak (the actresses' Scottish accents are consistent throughout), they evoke images of pain and sorrow in a surreal and almost mystical way. Harpe is especially good as the main woman in the group. Also, Larak Rogers provides a nice sense of humanity as George Jones, the U.S. State Department officer who serves as the play's antagonist and tries to enforce the department's policies and procedures but is constantly having run-ins with the women. Jessica Whitman provides some much-needed humor as Jones' secretary.
The only downside to the play is that the characters aren't really complex and some are written in a way that seems to force the actors to lightly go over the top to portray the quickly changing emotions of their characters. Director Gary Zaro isn't too heavy-handed with his direction, which lets the pace of the play flow in a natural, organic way, and he stages the action realistically on Erik H. Reid's beautiful set that does a very good job of creating the rolling Scottish hills.
The Women of Lockerbie does well to portray the many sides, questions and conflicts that arise when something as horrible as a terrorist attack happens. The play also shows that there are different ways to grievesome think they have moved on from grieving but find out they haven't, while others are so trapped by it they turn against those who love them and project moments of hysteria toward them. While not entirely perfect, the play still proves to be a very cathartic experience.
The Paradise Valley Community College production of The Women of Lockerbie runs through November 12th, 2017, at the PVCC Center for the Performing Arts, 18401 North 32nd Street in Phoenix AZ. Tickets and information can be found at http://paradisevalley.edu/cpa or by calling 602-787-7738.
Playwright: Deborah Brevoort