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Luna Gale at Seattle Repertory Theatre | Arts Stage – Seattle Rage

Luna Gale at Seattle Repertory Theatre

The performance of Pamela Reed as Carolyn, the careworn and compassionate social worker at the center of this play, is, by itself, worth the price of admission. Through Reed we see the hellish realities for which social workers must find solutions. There seem never to b easy answers or sufficient hours in the day. Always there are extenuating circumstances, and, in this play, as there probably can be in real life, there is a self serving superior who makes judgments based on what’s best for his career rather than on what’s best for the client.

Reed is remarkable. Through body movements as well as dialog she makes us feel her fatigue and frustrations just as she broadcasts the depth of her empathy for her clients. Her acting is simply stunning. And a fine cast supports her. Among the best are Hannah Mootz as Karlie, the meth addicted mother of baby Luna Gale, whose placement is at the center of the play, and Anne Allgood as Karlie’s Christian Fundamentalist mother who wants custody of the child but may not be the appropriate custodian.

There are no easy answers here. Each scenario has its good points and its sinkholes. Yet Caroline works overtime day-after-day seeking the best solution, despite all the obstacles placed in her way.

Director Braden Abraham has honed the acting with precision and assembled a remarkable production staff. Michael Ganio’s sleek, ultra-modern set combined with Robert J. Aguilar’s lighting is stunning. The backdrop is composed of scenery panels with back lighting. The panels slide back and forth swiftly and quietly for each venue change. It’s particularly effective.

Award winning playwright, Rebecca Gilman, is known for the adroit manner in which her plays address contemporary concerns. (e.g. racial identity, rape, political correctness). Here she takes on the social service system as well as the devastation wrought by family secrets and lies. My only problem with this work is its tendency to be a bit too melodramatic as the complications of the plot play out. It does, however, leave one with a lot of questions about how the troubled citizens in our society find answers and at what cost.

Through March 27, at Seattle Rep, 155 Mercer Street, Seattle, (206-443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).

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