BWW Review: THE SEEDBED at IRISH CLASSICAL THEATRE
FAMILY SECRETS UNRAVEL IN THE SEEDBED
A series of purported subtle exchanges and misinterpreted actions of a small Irish family form the framework for Bryan Delaney's THE SEEDBED, now on stage at Buffalo's Irish Classical Theatre. Reminiscent of the darkness found is so much of Edward Albee's family dramas, playwright Delaney creates a brooding home that on the surface seems superficially concerned about how everyone is feeling and doing, when in actuality mother, father and daughter all are acting as victims to an unspeakable incident.
Delaney spins a disturbing web that has one wondering what may have happened in this household. The majority of Act I is spent side stepping the family's dark secret with the audience growing wary wondering what is being kept so hush hush in front of their daughter's newly announced fiance. The three all seem superficially concerned about each other's well being, by repetitiously asking how the other is doing. But the script often plods in it's exposition when it should be building towards the big reveal. Granted, the reveal peaks at the conclusion of the first Act, leaving one to ponder where the second Act will take us.
Greg Natale has assembled a fine cast, guiding them through some uncomfortable confrontations, while creating some intimate scenes aided by Brian Cavanagh's sensitive, but unobtrusive lighting.
Kristen Tripp Kelley succeeds the most in fully embodying the matriarch Hannah. Her innate calmness shines through her subtle facial expressions, so when her inner demons ultimately emerge you are left to wonder if she is a woman who is faced with an unthinkable life vs. a woman mentally unhinged. Her Irish accent was consistent, whereas many others in the cast allowed theirs to slip as the evening went on.
Hannah's husband, Thomas, played by Chris Kelly, shone in his early scenes where alcohol is used as his coping mechanism. His lead up to the exposing the family secret was told in a perplexing bit of writing that was puzzling to watch. If there was some inner meaning in watching him portray both he and his wife, it was lost on me. That being said, the physical mess that was created on the stage perfectly mirrored the mess that this family has been living, full of doubt and failed pregnancies. Kelly handled this difficult scene with aplomb, while Ms. Kelley held her own in being a master of manipulation.
Young actress Arianne Davidow is the 18 year old daughter Maggie, whose supposed innocence in the family secret causes the unraveling of her parents story. Ms. Davidow is engaging as the teen who already has alcohol issues and is anxious to remove herself from the family dynamic. Delaney is at his best in writing for this complex character, creating enough doubt that the audience must decipher whether an 18 year old is telling the truth or fabricating stories based on her own mental instability.
The only outsider to the family is Mick (Eric Rawski), the older fiance to Maggie, who comes along for a first time family visit. Mr. Rawski has the acting chops necessary for this complex role, but his inconsistent accent caused for many lost lines. In addition, in what could have been a riveting scene in Act 2 with Hannah was plagued by tedious writing and a series of sexual Botany metaphors that grew tiresome. Rawski's confrontation with the parents was riveting, and his final scene alone with Thomas places his own psychological twist on the family's dysfunction. Delaney writes for the denouement to happen in the shed, full of caged birds squawking as a commentary to the evils that may or not have occurred. With Hithcockian undertones and a resolution of sorts to what has happened, the final scene intimates that nothing has or will change for this family.
THE SEEDBED plays at Buffalo's Irish Classical Theatre through April 2, 2017. Contact irishclassical.com for more information.