BWW Reviews: ONE FOR THE ROAD - SET Has a Very Pinter Christmas
Never let it be said that Springs Ensemble Theatre is afraid to defy convention. At a time of year that most production companies devote to family-friendly musicals and traditional favorites, they have elected to mount a limited run of One for the Road, Harold Pinter's unsettling portrait of human rights violations.
In fact, Sarah S. Shaver throws the horror of Pinter's one act play into sharp relief by dressing it up in the familiar trappings of the season, inviting the audience to partake in cookies and egg nog before heading to the theater to witness the interrogation of a family who have been exposed to every kind of abuse for crimes that are never defined. Carols play in between the scenes and a snowglobe chimes out the notes of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," set in motion by a government official who wears holly-print socks and just happens to be named Nicholas. ("He knows if you've been bad or good," indeed.) The comforting accoutrements, like Nicholas' incongruously personable manner, remind us that the torture Pinter depicts can happen anywhere, and is carried out by people who consider it not only acceptable, but honorable.
As Nicholas, Karl Brevik carried the majority of the play's dialogue, and does so with the false conviviality of a talk show host. His mask of joviality, which gradually slips more and more to reveal real menace, provides a great deal of the onstage danger, even if he has trouble sustaining it through some of the more repetitive passages of dialogue. The reactions of his captors provide the productions best character moments. Matt Radcliffe's Victor seethes with barely repressed rage, filling Pinter's trademark silences with tension. Gila (Miriam Roth Ballard) struggles to maintain her strength and dignity in the face of humiliation. As their child, AiDan Carter displays a blithe innocence of the danger he faces, but is a little too old for the inherent naïveté in his lines to be fully convincing (Pinter wrote the child as a seven-year-old; Shaver has aged him up to ten).
A reminder of the darkness even in our brightest times and a nice counterpoint to the overabundance of treacly holiday sentiment, ONE FOR THE ROAD plays tonight, December 7th and 12th-14th, with holiday treats beginning in the lobby at 7:30pm and the show at 8:00. For tickets, call 719-357-3080 or visit springsensembletheatre.org.