The Ridgelea Reports on Theatre

An Openin in Time -- Hartford Stage

By Tom Nissley

What -- a delicious new play by Christopher Shinn about a widow who returns to a Connecticut town to see if she can piece together old memories into a new beginning.

Where -- Hartford Stage, in a trick-laden production that has both the diner and the pizza shop popping up thru the stage floor.

Who -- Director Oliver Butler: does a good job of defining separate personalities and moving them in and out of each other and their stories.

Deborah Hedwell: plays Anne well, hesitating, seeking meaning and resolution, pushing into the neighborhood a little too anxiously.

Patrick Clear: as Ron holds back and closes down his own searching. A fine job with an unlikely character that he nevertheless defines nicely.

Brandon Smalls: George, becoming Cory. Excellent projection of a kid in crisis.

How -- Anne’s new house is attacked, first by a baseball that young neighbor George throws against the door, and later by a series of somethings that break her kitchen windows, one after the other. Who’s doing it? Doesn’t fit with the image of the community. Is it her troubled son Sam (Karl Miller) who lives not far away but hasn’t spoken to her for a long time? Is it George, the neighbor kid whose foster parents resent Anne for being nice to him? Or is it Kim (Molly Camp), the foster mother, making a KKK-like welcome to the neighborhood?

Ron and Frank (Bill Christ) have breakfast together almost every day at the diner, where Anetta (Kati Brozda) pampers them. Anetta decidedly does not pamper Anne when she visits the diner, and runs into Ron, who loved her long ago, when she was another teacher in town. But Ron is not good at staying the course. He backs off quickly when he doesn’t think he’s on center stage with Anne. Just the mention of the boy next door makes his devotion shrivel, and reminds him of how she cared about her son Sam when he was putting the make on her years ago… It is so tough for him to get around those interruptions that he closes down and drifts away.

George, the neighbor who has a bad deal with his foster parents, has a significant short spurt of a role but after Anne’s encouraging gets picked to play Angel in the High School production of “RENT.” That’s important for reasons you’ll put together when you see this production, and it also makes it clear that we are watching a play that is set in this decade of our century.

So -- Go to check this out for yourselves. It may or may not have a life beyond this production. The set (Antje Ellerman) is quite fabulous, and the costumes (Ilona Somogy) and Lighting (Russel H Champa) are good too.

Tickets and information at www.hartfordstage.org or 860-527-5151.

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre, 9/25/15 



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