Archive for May 2015

PREVIEW  Memory Care Plays at Taproot May 8 and 9

Two nights of award winning drama are coming to Taproot’s Isaac Studio. The performances should be of interest to all who care about someone with Alzheimers or the other diseases that effect memory The show includes staged readings, directed by Scott Nolte, of three one-act plays performed by professional actors who capture all the emotional highs and lows of caring for someone they love. Each play speaks to the humanity, dignity, and love that is part of that experience.

The Friday night performance is a fundraiser and includes a pre-show reception in Taproot’s Stage Door Cafe. Benefactors ($100) will also receive a signed book by Esther Altshul Hefgott whose poems and prose speak to her own experiences dealing with the disease in her beloved husband. Patron tickets are $50.00. The Saturday performance is $25 ($15 for seniors and students). All proceeds will go to hiring teaching artists to develop programs within organizations serving those with memory loss and their caregivers.

Taproot, Full Life Care, and PNA/Greenwood Senior Center are cosponsoring the performances. Additional support from Full Life, CareForce, Aegis Living, Merrill Gardens at First Hill, and Alzheimer’s Association.

Tickets may be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets at or 1 800 838-3006 ext. 1.


“Outside Mullingar” at the Seattle Rep

Emily Chisholm and M.J. Sieber. Photo by Chris Bennion

Emily Chisholm and M.J. Sieber. Photo by Chris Bennion

Oh, and don’t the Irish know how to hold a grudge? In this enormously satisfying tale of resentment, stubbornness, and sweetly realized love, John Patrick Shanley lays it all before us in exquisite language and with a wry humor that capture the essence of the rural Ireland from whence came his ancestors.

This romance directed by Wilson Milam is wonderfully realized, but at first you won’t realize it’s a romance. As the play opens, Seán G. Griffin plays old Tony the patriarch who hasn’t got long to live. In his easy chair in the kitchen, he chats with neighbor Aoife (Kimberly King), berating the fact that his unmarried son approaches middle age with not a marriage thought in his head. He wants his farm to stay in the family for many future generations so will probably have to sell it to a relative.

Aoife reminds Tony what a terrible thing such a sale would be for his son, Anthony, who has diligently worked the land from earliest childhood. She also wonders if the relative or anyone else will pay the price since Tony doesn’t own the narrow strip of land that links his property to the road, and he hasn’t had any success in trying to buy it.

What Tony doesn’t know is that it’s actually owned by Aoife’s daughter, the feisty Rosemary who awkward Anthony knocked down when they were both youngsters. Proper apologies have never been made so the land won’t be sold.

What follows is a torturous relationship cum romance between Anthony and Rosemary, both introverted misfits far past their salad days. Their mating dance is as bizarre as that of the emu. It involves a shotgun, metal detector, frozen eggs, lyrical descriptions of the countryside, and a good deal of rain.

This all plays out on the evocative set created by Eugene Lee and Patrick Lynch and cleverly lit by Geoff Korf. The dark interior of Tony’s kitchen and barn match the mood, and then when we move to Rosemary’s kitchen the stage is filled with light. For it’s in Rosemary’s kitchen that repressed love finally blooms.

Emily Chisholm, marvelous as the pipe and cigarette smoking Rosemary, captures the no-nonsense hardness of this Irish farmer, but lets her soft side come to the fore when we, the audience, are ready for it. M.J. Sieber creates a repressed and slightly odd Anthony, that’s just right for this idiosyncratic role. And King and Griffin brilliantly capture the music of Irish-English speech.

If you already love Ireland and its people or you’d like to know them better, or just enjoy the melody of the language, this is a play for you.

Through May 17 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. Seattle, (206 443-2222 or

Walter Quirt: art, social justice inseparable

See my review in The Seattle Times

Angry Housewives at Arts West

See my review in The Seattle Times.

“The Feast” produced by MAP Theatre

The table is set. The guests are ready, but the host is not yet there. Never mind, hostess Wendy, wonderfully played by Peggy Gannon, will feed everyone’s mind even if she has no meat on the offer.

This wild play by Celine Song, in a production directed by Aimée Bruneau offers a pleasant middle class dining room, three carping guests, and a hostess who has a lot to say to her guests but especially to her audience. She takes us into her confidence from the moment she steps on stage.

There’s no meat any more she tells us as she supposes she could eat her dog, but forget that, it’s “just a thought.” Then again we could start eating people, but how on earth would we cook them? And what about the different textures?

But then she really has to pay attention to her guests, the dysfunctional couple and the weird science guy who has a lot to say about killing mice in the lab, and that leads to speculation about chimps, and you can guess where that conversation goes.

Meanwhile, Wendy’s husband just never shows up, and as more and more wine is consumed, the sedate little dinner party begins to resemble George and Martha’s soiree in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”

Lovely acting here! Mia Morris and Mark Fullerton, stand ins for Jack Spratt and his wife, and Brandon Ryan as the mouse killer, are horrifyingly funny. And Peggy Gannon, master of timing, is terrific. But the play that starts with bright and new repartee devolves into clownish nonsense by the end.

Even so, there’s enough “meat” in this production to make it worthwhile. And the price is sure right at “pay what you will.”

So consider seeing this. But if you do, please don’t get up in the middle of the play and walk out if it requires passing across the stage as it does in this production. Unless you are about to vomit or have received word your that house is on fire, you never, never walk out of a production if exiting means disrupting the action and breaking the spell that theatre weaves. I just hope the two people who left faced no emergency and were just plain rude.

Through May 16 at the Performing Arts Theatre, 2125 3rd Ave., Seattle, ( or Theatre Schmeater 206 324-5801)