BWW Reviews: The Edge Theatre Welcomes Incredible Ensemble in THE SHADOW BOX
The Edge Theatre Company presents Michael Cristofer's award winning drama, THE SHADOW BOX playing now through May 19th. The play takes place over twenty four hours, in three separate vacation cabins on the grounds of a large hospital, in America. Within the three cabins our three patients, Joe, Brian and Felicity are living with their respective families as they have reached the end of their treatment and have agreed to be part of a psychological scheme where they live within the hospital grounds and have interviews with a psychiatrist.
So I must admit, having had the privilege to perform in this life-altering drama before may have given me some prejudices while watching this production. I am proud to say that this exceptional ensemble gave it their A game and brought me and the rest of the audience to tears. What I love most about this drama is that the terminal diagnosis (whether it be cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and arthritis) are never defined because no matter what the illnesses are, they still have the same lasting impacts on any family. This emotional show will bring a tear to your eye and you really grow to love these characters and breaks your heart in the end. My only note would be that I would have had Felicity stay in her chair in the curtain call, but understand that that could be appropriate to break the fourth wall.
First, compliments go out to entire ensemble as a whole for working so well together and building a strong chemistry that drew the audience in completely. Marc Smith was superb as Joe and had showed amazing range in his character. His wife Maggie (played by the fabulous Haley Johnson) complimented him well as the worry wart in complete denial. I must compliment them both on their wonderful accents that never faltered throughout the entire show. Paul Escobedo was just great and their son, Stephen and added that youthful air or innocence and sarcasm that this show needed. The trio as a whole played up their family moments quite nicely and the audience just fell in love with them. Paul Page was quite dynamic and witty yet centered as the afflicted Brian. He showed such engaging arch and range in his character and had one of the standout performances of the night. Brock Benson gave Mark a wonderful arch and played so well of both Brian and Beverly. He brought all the emotions to the table and was absolutely superb. Patty Ionoff was not as gregarious and over the top as other Beverly's I have seen but her performance had this sparkle and realness to it that was simply enchanting. Carol Bloom truly stood out in her memorable performance as Felicity. She played blind quite well and her appearance and demeanor as an elderly woman with one foot in the grave was completely believable. Michelle Grimes brought her all as Felicity's daughter, Agnes. I loved her subtle performance and her interview scene was had everyone at the edge of their seat. Local News celebrity Kirk Montgomery was never onstage as the Interviewer, but only heard. He voice was perfect for this role with an inflection in his voice that drew you in and created an air of warmth and understanding.
Director Rick Yaconis should be commended for not only choosing talented actors for these challenging roles, but also paring them perfectly together for fill dramatic impact. He pushed his ensemble to their limits of their emotionally charged performances without going over the edge to cheesy melodrama. Scenic Designer Remigio S. Veldez II was truly gifted in his interpretation of the cabins nestled in the woods. I loved the old, yet familiar feeling of them and the branches reaching out to the audience were also a nice touch. I also noted the wonderful flow of the set, while still having separate areas for the engaging three stories. A special shout out also needs to go to master carpenter Rich Munoz for this exceptional and sturdy wood work (I especially appreciated the porch swing). Light and Sound by Alex Ruhlin was excellent and helped to enhance this sensitive drama. I appreciated the music choices (including Comfortably Numb and REM) that were reflective and melancholy and put the audience in the right mood for the show. Costumes by Caroline Smith were contemporary and really added to each character. I adored her dress for Beverly that was just tawdry enough for her over the top persona (loved all the medals). Hair and makeup artist April Vaskin gave thoughtful consideration to her makeovers of these characters; and her transformation of Carol Bloom was absolutely shocking and perfect for the character of Felicity.