TAKE A CLIMB UP "ANNAPURNA"

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Life in a trailer park of accidental nudists is complicated. Just ask the cowboy poet Ulysses who has sought refuge in the mountains of Colorado after his wife Emma stole away one night with their son Sam, never to be heard from again. That was twenty years ago and a lot of snow and ice have frozen over their initial love and caring. Now, without warning or explanation, Emma is at Ulysses' trailer door. Why? What good reason could she have?

Sharr White has penned an intriguing premise in "Annapurna," letting it all hang out at TheaterWorks of Hartford until Sunday, November 9. In Ulysses, he has created a character who has given up climbing any personal mountains. He's lost his wife and son years ago and doesn't remember why and now his health has deserted him, with death seemingly imminent.

With no danger of winning a Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart Award for cleanliness or gourmet food preparation, Vasili Bogazianos' Ulysses has thrown in the dirty crying towel on life. The only things that keep him going are his slightly crazy incessantly barking dog and his active hatred of his trailer park's director Marty McNeely.

With his life already in the crapper, he is still astonished to find Emma at his door, ready to move in, once the debris has been shoveled out. Debra Jo Rupp's Emma is in take charge mode and doesn't care that Ulysses doesn't want her, her bottle of Lysol or her cheese and anchovy sandwiches. It's a long trek up a dangerous mountain, alluding to the Nepal mountain noted in the play's title, but accusations and confrontations reveal the circumstances surrounding Emma's abrupt departure. The resolutions are amazingly quick and satisfying when they come, like a slide down a cliff, thanks to the perfect timing of director Rob Ruggiero.

For tickets ($50-65, senior matinees $35), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. ; Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Come early to see a display of sculpture by artist Susan Clinard in the gallery upstairs, sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group.

Clear off a space in a corner of Ulysses' messy home, designed by Evan Adamson, complete with ants, so you have an up close and personal view of what love, loss and reconciliation look like and learn what he has been doing with himself for the last two decades.

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