BWW Reviews: West End Players Guild's Cynical and Disturbing LONESOME HOLLOW
Playwright Lee Blessing's Lonesome Hollow paints a cynical and slightly contrived portrait of our country's future. Blessing's dystopian look at America imagines a place where sex offenders are housed by a corporation in small towns that have been taken over and converted for this very purpose. There are some interesting and haunting ideas at work here, and the West End Players Guild has fashioned a nicely mounted production of the play that features a strong cast.
Tuck and Nye are two men who have been sentenced to live out their lives in the town of Lonesome Hollow. Nye is a sexual predator who's unwilling to change, but Tuck is a photographer whose artistic images have been deemed pornographic for their inclusion of naked children. Tuck also took advantage of one of these models, and that act led to his incarceration. They're both in the same position as far as how the law looks at their cases, but Nye is a smart ass who resents being held in this "community", while Tuck tries to make the best of things, and fashions a brick labyrinth in the park as a tool for meditation.
Jeff Kargus gives a terrific performance as Tuck, capturing his frustration and trying to channel it into something positive. He thinks he has a shot at redemption, and the encouragement he receives gives him a false sense of hope. B. Weller does amusing work as Nye, who has no interest in changing his ways, and receives chemical treatments that hinder him physically. Elizabeth Graveman is quite good as the officious Mills, a sort of social worker who "treats" the inmates. Things change when she begins to have feelings toward Tuck, and even offers him a camera to use. Mark Abels is the voice of authority as a psycho therapist who enforces the law of the community, and Rachel Hanks does nice work as Tuck's sister Pearl, who comes to visit her brother and gets more than she bargained for.
Robert Ashton's direction is smartly conceived and executed. Ken Clark's scenic design neatly recreates a park setting complete with labyrinth and benches. Nathan Schroeder's lighting brings a harsh sense of the reality of the setting with bright white lights beaming down on the action. Beth Ashby's costumes fit the various characters well, and Josh Cook's sound design is properly unnerving.
This cautionary tale lingers in the memory long after you've finished viewing it, and that makes for good theatre. Lonesome Hollow continues through October 6, 2013 at the Union Avenue Church.