BWW Reviews: STAGE IV at The Mobtown Players

For playwright and physician, Madeline Leong, all the emotions doctors are encouraged to keep in check have found an inspired outlet in her new play STAGE IV. The medical backdrop provides the perfect canvas to display how differently people respond to some of the most critical moments of their life.

Since the well-done reading of the play, the story has been tightened and focused. Resourceful set design (Michelle Datz) , clear direction (Adam Kunsberg), and fine acting have creatively addressed some of the potentially confusing shifts between time, place and character.

Exceptional casting makes this good story even better. As Emily Murdoch, Julie Luzier plays a character that matures from a child in 1986 to a young adult in the present day. Luzier has the appearance and ability to touchingly portray Emily at different ages and stages of life. When her beloved father (Steve Izant) passes, Emily becomes unmoored. She adopts her mother's (Jill Colucci) self-destructive approach to life and risks becoming an aimless, lost soul. Izant is a gruff and lovable father whose feet remain firmly on the ground right to the last minute. Colucci does a wonderful job as Carolyn Murdoch whose fascination with fire is one facet of a complicated, bewildering character. We would like to know more about what formed her personality, but just as children rarely know or completely understand their parents, we are left with the bits and pieces of Emily's experience as the only child of ill-matched parents.

Sometimes running parallel and sometimes intersecting with Emily's life is Dr. Sam Adlam's (Christopher Dews) story . Adlam is a young physician on his way to even bigger things. His violent childhood makes him uncomfortably familiar with life and death. When this doctor becomes the patient, he is forced to resolve internal conflicts and decide how to confront an uncertain future. Dews does a superb and nuanced job of growing his character along the arc of denial, despair and determination.

The voice of humor and reason belongs to Dr. Anna Rivera (Kathryn Falcone). She is the counselor whose life threads it way through the other characters stories and the counterbalance to their chaos and depression. Even here, the playwright never lapses into an overly cerebral approach that one might expect from a medical professional. The story is emotional and moving. When Sam and Emily finally choose hope, we are rooting for them and find ourselves hoping too.

STAGE IV continues playing through August 10 at the Mobtown Theater at Meadow Mill. For tickets go online at www.mobtownplayers.com.

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From This Author Tina Saratsiotis

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