Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, September 19, 2010

bottom of the world

A new work by Lucy Thurber (last Atlantic production was Scarcity with Kristen Johnson and Michael T. Weiss) made it's debut on Stage 2 at the Atlantic Theatre Company this past week.  Bottom of the World explores the cycle of life and death via a complex set of family relationships and visions of an "alternate family" as seen through both the author of a recently published book (the dead sister) and the reader (the surviving sister).    What made it slightly more complex was that the story was told through the eyes of a family that had two brothers, rather than the two sisters and each had parents - all of course played by the same actors in parallel.  Yikes!  Attention must be paid.

There are a few facts I wish we knew up front - such as why one sister was black and one was white.  Blind casting, i thought?  Alas, they had two separate fathers.  In the meantime, I had already noticed that the brothers who paralleled the sisters were also white and black.  Then somewhere in the middle we learn the one sister was a lesbian.  There was no parallel gay character, but indeed other concepts ran in parallel.  Focus, Focus!

I will note there was some delicious talent in this one.  Intelligent writing, for sure (Lucy) - but I'd go on to say a few stand-outs were cast - Crystal A. Dickinson (Abagail) and Aubrey Dollar (Susan/Dana), Brendan Griffin (Josh) and Brandon J. Dirden (Ely).   Kudos to the set designer,  Walt Spangler.  I think all those 2x4's that were the set were supposed to represent the tangled roots of a tree turned upside down (just like the play's logo).  Sometimes your life can get turned upside down - is what I took away as the symbolism.  The musicians (a banjo and a fiddle) lingering up in the tree (the roots, i suppose) provided tasteful and melodic background and mood music - just like the birds would.  Nice touch.

Woven throughout the tapestry of this play is the theme that we should all notice the ones we love (i.e pay attention!) and love the ones we notice.   Well, I noticed this play on-line today - and I really loved it.  I hope you get the chance too -  before it's too late.