Swimming with the suds

The Passion

By Warner Richards
Directed by Stephen Stahl
Rex Productions
The Grove Street Theatre
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Maya T. Amis

The Passion is a play out of its time. It is a melodrama with surreal elements which are, depending on your interpretation, psychological, ghostly, or both. Briefly, it is the story of an extremely unhappy family that has been shattered by the death of one of its members, many years earlier. The surviving son has not been home for a long time; his mother misses him. His father ... well, his father is going off the deep end. All of this, combined with the son's own screwed-up relationship, adds up to an evening of soap opera during which none of the great revelations come as any surprise.

In the course of the play, several weighty issues are touched upon, but they only seem to be brought up in order to serve as a (non)surprise, or as a plot device. The aspects of the play that may not be real also seem to be there merely as a trick, and really serve little purpose. Nothing is accomplished, nothing is resolved, and heaven knows, nothing is learned as the evening progresses. The actual dialogue is serviceably naturalistic (again, reminiscent of daytime TV), but the story and its unfolding are anything but.

Unfortunately, this lack of realism made the actors' task even more difficult than usual. It's hard to participate in a soap opera without acquiring some of the acting style. All of the actors did a decent job, but Maggie Peach stood out in her portrayal of the mother. She is a genuine actress who made her character's emotional excesses both true and touching. David Lamberton as the father gave conviction to a difficult (and particularly melodramatic) part. He was particularly good at evoking madness, both with his voice and with a manic glint in the eye. Gil Grail as the son was likeable enough, Marc Ewing looked good and was convincingly antagonistic as the son's lover, Lou Patane was a dignified and intelligent priest, and Caroline Kelly had little to do but flutter seductively (which she did quite well) as ``the intruder.''

Played on a monochromatic, stylized set, The Passion had some visual appeal given to it by designer Chris Parrette, aided by lighting designed by Jane Cox. The set served as both indoors and out, and the mingling of the two was nicely done. Costumes (Patricia Hibbert) were excellent; they never struck a false note, being absolutely appropriate to the characters and surroundings.

Box Score:
Writing 0
Directing 1
Acting 1
Set 1
Costumes 2
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1996 Review by Maya T. Amis

Return to OOBR Index
Return to Home Page