March 23 - March 29, 1995

Beyond Words

By Jana Rivera

CRAIG LUCAS WRITES words that flow beautifully, effortlessly from the mouths of the characters in his plays. They speak with sparkling wit and effervescence.

The real strength of his plays lies not in speech, but in the undercurrent. The words are simply there to amuse us and fill us in on a few details. It's the unvoiced human ordeal between the words that pulls us in. In those quiet moments we grieve for the characters wrapped in their pain. The silence begs us to push down the dull twinge of our own pain that has surfaced somewhere between a quip and a gibe.

Under the guidance of METAtheatre's artistic director, Robin Aaberg, Blue Window reaches the audience with subtle tenderness wrapped in humor. An exceptional cast delivers each unspoken word with touching sentiment.

On the surface, Blue Window is a sharp, simple play centered around a dinner party in a New York City apartment. But softly and carefully Lucas reveals the complexities of his characters as they walk through the mundane elements of everyday life--what to wear, what to serve, what to say. Eventually they each find themselves asking the same unanswerable question: How do you stop the ache?

Lucas explores our search for the answer and our overwhelming yearning to connect to another human being, to make another understand our needs and share our pain. And he arrives at our inevitable failure--our discovery that we cannot expect understanding from another, we can barely understand ourselves; our realization that our pain belongs solely to us and can never be shared. Wouldn't life be better, asks Emily (Jen Rossiter-Nelson), if everyone had a window you could look into and know exactly how they felt?

Should we settle? Should we be satisfied with someone who claims to love us in spite of all we don't share? Should we continue to look for the connection even as the one we look toward turns away? In a fluid 90 minutes, Blue Window dredges up issues lost on daily life leaving us to ponder their underlying consequences.

Lucas intermixes quick humor with the sad exploration of love and relationships, requiring actors to switch quickly from one emotion to another. Kiley M. Jones is particularly moving in the role of Libby, a woman desperately searching for the antidote for her torment. Jones portrays her with just the right touch of agony glossed over by a support group-induced I'm-on-my-way-to-healing attitude.

Keith DeGreen, Jr. plays Norbert, a simple man with a thing for Libby and jigsaw puzzles, with perfect, sweet awkwardness. And Neal Racioppo portrays the maniacally cheerful Griever with great humor that quickly fades to darkness when he reaches out to console the inconsolable Libby. Susan E. Mullen also gives an excellent performance as the conversant lesbian writer, Alice.

Llewellyn's clever scenic design allows a view of five apartments at once, enabling all seven characters to share the space without entering each other's scene. It also smoothly transforms into one apartment for the dismal dinner party.

Lucas' clever dialogue, which has all seven characters on stage conversing in five separate apartments at the same time, requires perfect timing and rhythm. Under Aaberg's direction, the cast performs to perfection.

METAtheatre's production of Blue Window continues with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and at 3 p.m. Sundays through April 2. All performances are at the Historic "Y" Theatre, 738 N. 5th Ave. Tickets are $10, with discounts available. For reservations and information call 882-8446.

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March 23 - March 29, 1995

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