Thousand Pines – Review by Susan Granger

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

That certainly applies to Matthew Greene’s powerful new play which, while relevant and thought-provoking, is also very confusing for an unsuspecting audience.

What’s needed is an explanatory prologue or voiceover. Something to let the audience know that there are three scenes, all set in the dining rooms of three identical suburban tract houses on Thanksgiving Day – with the same actors playing different characters in the aftermath a shooting massacre at Thousand Pines, the local junior high school.

As these disparate families – the Fosters, the Kanes and the Garrisons – cope with sudden loss and struggle with grief and guilt in the wake of an unimaginable tragedy, they discuss the reality, repercussions and reverberations of school safety and gun control, which affects every student, teacher and parent in today’s America because everyone is vulnerable and violence can erupt anywhere.

Director Austin Pendleton’s terrific ensemble consists of Katie Ailion, Anna Bates, Joby Earle, Kelly McAndrew, William Ragsdale and Andrew Veenstra – versatile actors in a multitude of roles.

This World Premiere runs at the Westport Country Playhouse through Saturday, Nov. 17. For tickets, call 203-227-4177 or go to www.westportplayhouse.org – and note the enhanced programming events inspired by this play’s themes:

“Dealing with Loss and Fighting for Change in Response to Gun Violence” on Sun., Nov. 11

“Constitutional Context of Gun Laws” on Wed., Nov. 14

“#Unload: Aiming for Change,” a curated art exhibition in the Sheffer Studio Nov. 3-17.

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