The current theatre season is promising to be one of the best I’ve seen since moving to Seattle 16 years ago. I’ve already written rave reviews about some of the current offerings, and here comes another. New Century Theatre’s “Mary’s Wedding,” directed by John Langs, is a tender two-person play that touches your heart and thrills you with its exquisite stagecraft.
In this 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I, NCTC presents a love story wrapped around the fierce happenings on the battlefield. Mary and Charlie meet in a small town in Western Canada. Both are sweet innocents. As they fall in love war clouds hang over Europe, and Charlie gets caught in the patriot fervor that sweeps through the land. Mary doesn’t want him to enlist, but he joins a cavalry unit, and off he goes, filled with bravado, optimism, even gaiety.
The story of their love affair begins at the end. It’s the night before Mary’s wedding, and she dreams of what has preceded it. Her dream encompasses the flowering of her and Charlie’s love, their letters, and Charlie’s experiences on the battlefield. Her dream moves back and forth in time, capturing the horror of war, the heartache of separation, and the tenderness of young love.
West of Lenin Theatre has adaptable space, and for this play scenic and lighting designer Brian Sidney Bembridge has turned it into an amazingly real barn. Walls are covered in wooden planking. The hay bales that lie about on the straw covered floor serve as numerous props, and one even becomes a galloping horse.
Bembridge, as skilled with lighting as he is with space, also turns this barn into a realistic battlefield with clever lighting effects. With those lights and Matt Starritt’s awesome sound we experience violent thunderstorms, even more violent battles, cavalry charges, explosions,
The two actors, Maya Sugarman and Conner Neddersen are exquisitely matched. She’s the girl every mother would wish her son to marry—sweet, beautiful, impishly humorous, steadfast. He’s the honorable, handsome, bright young man every mother should want her daughter to marry. Their innocence imbues their sweet love with grace.
It’s a lovely production enacted by two splendid actors, and presented in a fashion that makes it even better than the script.
Through Oct. 11 at West of Lenin, 203 N 36th St., Seattle, (www.206 661-8223 or wearenctc.org)