BWW Reviews: Upstream Theater's Brilliant Production of WINDMILL BABY
Upstream Theater continues their fine season with the U.S. premiere of Australian David Milroy's engaging work, Windmill Baby. Upstream continues to bring us some of the finest and most thought-provoking plays from around the globe, both educating us and enhancing our perspective on the world around us in the process. This time around we're transported to the outback for a fascinating story that touches the heart and soul. A bravura performance, superb direction and inspired musical accompaniment combine to provide a scintillating evening of theatre that should not be missed.
Maymay Starr has made a pilgrimage to the remains of a plantation that holds many memories for her. She's a modern woman now, complete with cellphone, but this place takes her back to a past that seems to haunt her. As she journeys back to a different time, she recalls the various people and circumstances she encountered as a young woman. What we come to realize over the course of the play, is that Maymay has traveled here for closure.
Linda Kennedy is a local treasure and simply marvelous as Maymay. As she weaves her tale, she assumes the roles of the many people who were a part of her past life, and she does so with considerable aplomb. The play, though dramatic in nature, is full of humor that Kennedy makes splendid use of. She's a natural storyteller, and this one-woman piece really takes advantage of her skills. It also allows for interaction with the audience and with Farshid Soltanshahi, who provides an atmospheric musical backdrop that really suits the material. Soltanshahi makes excellent use of a variety of instruments, including a slide "guitar" that he put together himself.
Philip Boehm's direction is wonderfully conceived and executed. Boehm has proven that he has a real knack for transporting his audience to other places and times, and his work here is no exception. Patrick Huber's scenic design evokes the setting with worn and windswept pieces that expertly capture the flavor intended. Tony Anselmo's lighting scheme bathes the stage in orange and yellow tones that nicely conjure up the land down under. Claudia Horn's props and Keaton Treece's costume work also contribute to the overall effect.
Windmill Baby is a haunting and mesmerizing play that continues Upstream Theater's tradition and mission of bringing global works to a grateful and receptive public. This brilliant production continues through May 11, 2014 at the Kranzberg Arts Center.