|Caitlin Carleton and Chris Cardano - Photos by John Dlugolecki|
By Joe Straw
Happenstance – a chance happening or event – Dictionary.com
Red Sage Productions presents Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson, directed by Kiff Scholl at The Lounge Theater through February 10, 2019.
The Alaskan one-man radio station played on, a casual voice that had the listener in-and-out-of-dream sounds, accompanied by the wind blowing outside, some half heard noises about exits, front and back, silencing raucous phones, but beautiful, dreamingly soft, moving in and out of consciousness under a blanket, softly listening to the crepitating sounds of the cast iron fireplace, and rustling comfortably cozy on a nice long windy winter’s night. (Beautiful sounds by Sound Designer David Medina)
All was quiet in a lonely wood-frame home with a lonely pot on top of a dilapidated stove and a few dishes in the rack. (A beautiful cabin/home by Set Designer/Set Builder John Mahr.)
But, now, not all is quiet—there is a sudden loud knock. One hears it half asleep, something in this being twitches, stops a second, but now the knocking is real, up on feet, on top of the bed, as the disturbing sounds give way to an open door with cold quelling the heat.
Rosannah DeLuce (Caitlin Carleton) breaks into the room, a remarkable sight in off-white soiled wedding dress, like Dicken’s Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, worn and dirtied from traversing an hour in the snow to find this place of refuge.
The tall monstrous dark leviathan is now surprised, almost plastered to the cabin wall as the being covered in a blanket observes, standing on the bed and focused on the next move, maybe the last move, not knowing if the apparition is of good fortune or a desperate misfortune.
And Rosannah is a ball of ice, her hands coil from the cold, just useless nubs on the ends of her limbs, but just enough to grab a bottle, pours a drink, and intake the liquid refreshment to warm her inner soul, all the while explaining, through short gasps of air, why she is there.
Why is she there?
She inhales more air to warm her self, and takes another drink, the little things just to know that she exists, telling her story, until she can continue no further, and then she faints.
Dropping his blanket, Henry Harry (Chris Cardano) appears. Through all of this, he has not said a word. He picks her up from the floor and places her on the bed. He takes off her wedding dress, and then bathes her with warm water from the stove. He covers her with a blanket, grabs her satin wedding shoes from the floor, and sits at his kitchen table with shoes in hand and weeps.
And then Rosannah sleeps for two days.
Why is she there in the middle of nowhere Alaska? Why are they both there?
Cindy Lou Johnson (play writer) answers those questions during the course of her 1989 play if either one of the characters would just come out and say it. But, past tragedies have the characters confused, about trust, and about painful memories. Johnson provides enough outlandish dialogue that takes the characters on a circuitous route through confabulation to the truth. Which, one believes, is the intention of the play because during the course of the play, those questions are realized.
In keeping with the idea of the play, Brilliant Traces is a compendium of a heightened reality realized, of events that trace the character to a moment in time. Each character, chained by their boundless melancholy, must recognize those moments, absorb it, grow, and move on to the next as they discover moments in their partner’s lives.
Kiff Scholl directs a pleasant night of intimate theatre, one that is often times unexpected, beautiful, and filled with a deep love of caring for another human being. Scholl has the characters separated most of the night, waiting for the right moments of discomforting intimacy to come closer to conjugal harmony. In terms of discovering the reasons why each character is there, there may have been moments that were not completely realized on this night. Also, the ending is an important resolution for both characters, which must project them back to the beginning to their collective moment now. The ending on this night just seemed to end unexpectedly.
Caitlin Carleton, as Rosannah DeLuce, has a number of marvelous moments despite a few mishaps on this particular night – the door opening before all of the pounding was completed, and placing the cup on the cast iron heater to the sound of wood and destroying an illusion. That aside, Carleton’s physical and emotional life as the character was very appealing and beautiful to watch. Rosannah, seemed to be bi-polar, attention-deficit, and with other emotional ailments all in the same breath and that made for a well-rounded character, slightly wacky, and totally unpredictable. Carleton manages to put all of those things into the makeup of her character which was a pretty amazing performance.
Chris Cardano, as Henry Harry, is garbed in 1980’s motif looking like Jack Torrance in The Shinning complete with eyebrows. But Henry is a sincere and lonely character who wants nothing to do with humans until this one enters his life. He works 400 miles from where he lives – works seven weeks of work, has two weeks off, which is why he never leaves his cabin during this stretch of his life. He also has some explaining to do as he negotiates this present relationship. So one feels the bath scene, at present, is not yet connected to his earlier life, and should be. Also, the shoes should send him back to that earlier tragic day. That said, there is a lot to enjoy about Cardano’s performance who manages not to completely lose his cool with his abstruse partner.
Other members of the crew are as follows:
Andrew Schmedake –Lighting Designer
Kathryn Juday – Costume Designer
Jen Albert – Fight Choreographer
Beth Goldberg – Casting Assistant
Courtney Rhodes – Stage Manager
Caiti Wiggins – Box Office Manager
Levi Burns – Carpenter
Phil Sokoloff – Publicity
Ty Donaldson – Graphic Design
Run! Run! And take someone who loves the last frontier.
The Lounge Theater
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Free parking on Santa Monica Blvd after seven.-->