| Entertainment :: Theatre|
by Christopher Soden EDGE
ContributorTuesday Jul 15, 2008
Mary’s Wedding is a lyrical, avid, and deeply
moving narrative of a young man (Charlie) and woman (Mary) who meet by chance,
swiftly fall in love, and endure the painful issues that arise when Charlie goes
off to war in the 1920’s. As we might expect, Charlie is stirred by a sense
of patriotism and valiance while Mary begins to grasp that even the most altruistic
of wars can only end in Pyrrhic victory.
"Mary’s Wedding" may or
may not be a condemnation of war itself, but it certainly strips away any delusions
of glory in battle. Ironically the play emerges from the heightened, spectacular
realms of poetry and dreams : the echoing of phrase and image, the slant logic
that often seems more "true" than verisimilitude. But is just as quick to reveal
that while the worlds of the fantastic and actual can often intersect, they must
sometimes diverge. How the fanciful and nightmarish aspects of subsisting in the
world can collide, or subtly seep into one another.
At the risk of generalizing,
Rover Dramawerks seems (more often than not) to excel at excavating these lesser-known
jewels where romance and catastrophe coalesce into resonant, understated reveries
on devotion and spiritual survival. Plays like "Two Rooms," "An Infinite Ache,"
"Private Eyes" share this premise, and director Lisa Devine continues her masterful
exploration of love in "Mary’s Wedding," taking what might have been swallowed
up by schmaltz, and turning it into a hypnotic, engulfing experience: filled with
fear, grief, foreboding and buoyancy. Devine’s confident, balanced, harmonious
touch, her ear for the rhythms of dialogue, give this production its implacable
Needless to say, when a play runs 90 minutes with only two actors
to hold our attention, casting is paramount. Julie Reinagel (Mary) and Matt Savins
(Charlie) have the unenviable task of being onstage the entire time and pouring
themselves energetically into these roles that are both physically and emotionally
demanding. Whether they are riding a gatepost like a horse or hunkering down in
foxholes they are adept and focused. Reinagel plays the additional role of Flowers,
a congenial, paternal sergeant who looks after Charlie while he’s away from
home. This somewhat unusual choice still reflects the dream logic of the play,
in a sense Flowers is Mary’s surrogate while Charlie is away from home,
providing him with guidance whether he is dodging bullets or writing to his fiancée.
Reinagel and Savins both have the unabashed, genuine air of ingénues who
have not yet succumbed to the toxins of betrayal or disappointment. They seem
to authentically care about the world around them and each other, their hearts
still open to the overwhelming and miraculous. Reinagel is poised and plausible
as the British immigrant who can conquer Charlie with a careless, sincere smile.
Ms. Reinagel is treading dangerous waters here, as tone is everything, and the
wrong spin can turn, say, Desdemona into Suzy Creamcheese. Reinagel is canny and
radiant, engaging and melting our hearts. Savins is earnest and achingly brave
as Charlie. He exhibits range, skill and tenderness, drawing us into the lather
of Charlie’s passions, from dread to rapture to despair.
(Dawn Wittke King) Sound (Jason Rice) Scenic (Clint Alan Ray) and Costume (Carol
M. Rice) Design were all very impressive, integrating seamlessly and complementing
this somber, beautiful piece. Whether we are transported inside a barn to escape
a rainstorm, an afternoon tea or the deck of a ship in the first ragged hours
of morning, the technical expertise (along with the work of Devine, Savins and
Reinagel, of course) of the crew made it happen with finesse.
Dramawerks presents Mary’s Wedding, playing
through August 2nd at Cox Building Playhouse in Plano, Texas. For more details,
visit their website.
Christopher Soden received his MFA
in Poetry from Vermont College in 2005. He is a teacher, lecturer, actor, performer
and playwright. In addition he writes film, theatre and literary critique. In
his spare time he likes to read, cook, dine, do crossword puzzles, chill and nap.