3 stars. “Before Departure” at Miner Lane Theater
In “Before You Go”, Jill Baker blew into her mother’s house with a strong wind. She was on the run-kind of-just gave some good boys to a bar in Tucson.
Her motorcycle helmet showed a red stain during the argument. She told her brother Mark that her boyfriend had returned to Los Angeles and he was a rock singer under the stage name Sammy Suicide. When Mark was able to say a word bluntly, he told her that their mother Betty was about to die.
Their brother Pat, a priest, is with her in the bedroom. Considering their mother’s condition and the family confession that will take place next, Pat’s career may come in handy.
This fascinating family drama-on the stage of Miners Alley Playhouse-announced that it was no different from Jill’s admission. A burst of energy—”I’m an actor! On the stage! Finally!”—before it settles down, it is usually smart, sometimes quietly directing.
Actor and member of the Colorado Theater Association Hall of Fame John Ashton (John Ashton) wrote the show. He also directs. Although this dual role is common in independent films, it is not common in dramas. Ashton served his materials and performers very well. There are mild philosophical and theological struggles between the siblings — about opioid addiction, gun ownership, the existence of heaven and hell, etc. — but the history of Jill and Mark will take center stage.
Eric Mather is wary of the arduous work of portraying Mark, who destroyed his sister’s trust decades ago. Missy Moore brings the strength of survivors and prickly alloys to Jill. If Pat-“Father Pat”-looks older than his brother, think of it as a comment on the way Mark Baker is still trapped. Collins’ Pat is a pastor of thoughtful people, because Pat himself is a thoughtful person, as thoughtful as his pastor.
The ensemble provides sharp dialogue in an agile and even talkative way. Some lines reflect Jill’s accusation against Mark: “It sounds cute and smart, but it’s often just a light and mean thing.” Yes, there is a lot of wisdom here. Nevertheless, as the three Baker brothers spend time together, what is more and more noticeable is the wisdom of the play. Most of the feeling is earned and lived.
Especially the common past of Mark and Jill requires subtle differences, so as not to get angry and blame too easily and prematurely. Ashton and his actors handled the ugliest material gently, instead of showing the typical contempt in this kind of family drama-and “before leaving” is a genre. If anything, the offense that pushed Mark and Jill into overdue liquidation was initially underestimated.
As the matriarch of the family, Billie McBride showed her style in an impressive way. She is articulate but her lines are very gentle. As the straw of Dr. Pepper and the spirits appearing entirely from her bedroom in Act Two, Betty Baker seems to be a woman who can raise these three different but interconnected souls. She is cold and has a sense of humor, and may even be kind. When she and Mark sat on the sofa and expressed their confession, her sympathy was obvious.
The ninth step often mentioned in AA requires addicts to make corrections. For the people on the receiving end, the fault may sound too little, too late. It seems more to liberate the penitents than to alleviate people’s harm in their evil deeds. How Ashton and his siblings dealt with this matter resonated and satisfied.
A slightly clumsy part of the play is about Jill’s boyfriend Martin, also known as “Sami”. Damon Guerrasio lives in the head of an apologetic fool, with a calm body and a kind heart. This is not a problem. It is not clear whether the overly familiar comedic gesture respects the subtle drama, or just frees the audience from our discomfort.
The “Before You Go” series emphasizes a different kind of return: the audience going to the theater. Set designer Jonathan Scott-McKean’s living room and kitchen, equipped with sofas and refrigerators, guitar stands and amplifiers, are the first batch of elaborate stage sets in more than a year. The rooms and daily necessities on the walls and desks increase our sense of the people gathered in them. Betty seems to have moved from the Midwest to the Southwest, and her simple taste for furniture and love for the Bob Ross landscape are intact.
Miners Alley Playhouse deliberately made a small spoiler when warning the audience that there would be gunshots and discussions about sexual abuse. You only need to know Chekhov’s gun salvo to guess the pistol Jill brought into the house. The pistol in her backpack in the first act will not stay there throughout the show. There will be a loud noise. There will also be whimpers and valuable drama.
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