“A Small Fire” by Adam Bock, produced by Sound Theatre Company

Emily was what my father would call “a Pistol.” She owned a construction company and ran it with a foul mouth and a demand for excellence. She has a loving husband and what they consider a good marriage. Their beloved daughter, Jenny is about to get married. Yes, there are frustrations and occasional anger. What relationships don’t have those aspects?Gordon Carpenter, Teri Lazzara photo by Ken Holmes A Small Fire

But suddenly Emily becomes ill. In too many ways she’s robbed bit by bit of her full participation in the world. Teri Lazzara is a spellbinding Emily in a play that demands superb acting. Each actor here brings to the production passion, compassion and a touch a humor. Gordon Carpenter as the husband provides a model for coping and loving when the one we love is diminished. Sarah Coates as the daughter shows with excruciating poignancy the ups and downs of mother/daughter relationships, the vexations that are merely surface tensions above a deep well of love. Ray Tagavilla as Billy, Emily’s foreman, her right-hand man, has just the right brusque flippancy and understanding to spar with Emily when she’s well and to sustain the entire family as she deteriorates.

Director Julie Beckman and Sound Theatre artistic director Teresa Thuman selected the tiny New City Theatre because of the intimacy it allows between cast and audience. One of the wonders of this production is the manner in which they’ve used the small stage. Set designer Montana Tippett has created five totally different sets ranging from construction site to wedding reception, from indoors to outdoors. They are amazing and effective transformations.

In this play, the characters are challenged to learn more about themselves and their loved ones. They must search within themselves for the resources necessary to cope with physical and emotional change. Their experiences cause us to leave the theatre questioning our own capacities.

There’s lots of really good theatre in Seattle right now. Put this one up there with the best.

Thurs.-Sat., through June 21 at New City Theatre, 1406 18th Ave., Seattle, (206 856-5520 or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/634765 or www.SoundTheatreCompany.org)

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