“Things You Can Do” Presented by Live Girls Theatre

Global Warming as evidenced by melting Arctic ice, reduced glaciers, et al— this is the intellectual pursuit of graduate student Stevie (played by Hannah Ruwe) who knows more about climate change than she does about the interpersonal mayhem and meltdown in her own family.

We meet her as she’s rescued from a fall through thin ice. Her untimely submersion happens when she’s on a long overdue visit home. Rescued from the semi-frozen river, she’s driven to her home where, despite her mother’s efforts, the atmosphere is glacial.

Mom (Alyson Bedford) is big into good works but rather poor at parenting. Stevie’s younger sister Bella is a total mess. Bella, played with nuance and passion by Clara Hayes hates school, looks Goth, and feels rejected. Disturbed as she is, she’s a fascinating character. When half frozen Stevie shows up, all the angst, frustrations, and heartache that define each of these family members comes to the fore.

Every woman in this play, including the EMT who attended to Stevie after her submersion, is unhappy even desperate. Even more disturbing are the men, those alluded to and the one male actually in the play. He gets by being Mr. Cool and selling dope to high school kids. Jonah Martin presents him wonderfully. There’s reference to the missing father/husband who walked out some years ago. Then there’s the high school kid who perpetrates a sadistic act on Bella, contributing mightily to her psychosis. Males do not come off well.

This study of family and personal disintegration juxtaposed to the larger climate issue that’s destroying the world as we know it is a wee bit too much—too many complications, too many issues. But thanks to good direction by Meghan Arnette and good acting by the cast it contains lots of good moments.

It’s worth seeing, but hurry. The play closes on this upcoming Sunday.

Through July 31 at ACT Theatre (an ACTLab Production by Live Girls Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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