BWW Review: BRILLIANT TRACES at Theatre Midwest: A Treat That Will Keep The Audience Warm
It's that time of year where everyone is wondering when and If we are going to have a major snowstorm? And if so how much? Now take a moment and imagine there is a blizzard with white out conditions. This is what you hear as you enter into "Theatre Midwest" production of "Brilliant Traces" by Cindy Lou Johnson. This two-person production does a beautiful job of finding balance within each of the element, that is a treat to the audience.
"Brilliant Traces" takes place during a massive blizzard in Alaska. As the lights come up, we are seeing a bride out in the cold, trying to get into a house to get out of the snow after her car has broken down. When no one answers the door, she uses all the force she can to get into the house where she finds a man sleeping. While they spar at first, as the show goes on, they slowly start to reveal the secrets being harbored and find out that they have some similarities that allow them to relate to each other.
Tom Woldt's sound design does a fantastic job of setting the tone for this play. There are howling winds playing through the speakers as you walk into the theatre. The winds let the audience in on the setting of the show. As we came nearer to the show, there was some music featuring lower strings giving a somber tone as the lights went down. The music was a great balance with some of the comedic ramblings at the beginning of the show. The jarring change from music to a woman calling out for help was a tie into the jagged edges of the set.
One of the thrills walking into the theatre is seeing the gorgeous set designed by Julia Franklin. Each of the main pieces has jagged corners that tie each item together. From the flooring to the wall to the rafters, no edge is identical. This plays into how the play suddenly goes from a comedic discussion to a heart-wrenching one. With this show performed on a thrust stage, the set does a great job of making sure that everything happening on stage can be seen without looking too sparse or minimalistic.
With the demands of the actors in this show, you need two actors who have strong chemistry and are also able to be intimate with each other. There are three intimate scenes between the actors that make or break the show. For this production, the chemistry and intimacy were built in as the actors on stage are married. They have the trust already built-in for those scenes.
The first actor we see or notice on stage is Jami Bassman Ahart as Rosanna DeLuce. When she enters, you can tell she is in trouble, but until she gets into the house, you aren't exactly sure why. The suspense she builds is balanced by the humor she brings. We see this humor as her character notices Tom, a man lying in bed. It becomes humorous as her character talks at him for the first chunk of the show. As she starts to listen, we start seeing nuanced layers that slowly reveal her reason for running from her wedding.
What makes this production work is the balance Tom Ahart brings to the production through his character Henry Harry. While his character also has some comedic moments, his character takes a different path. In the first part of the play, his character is silent. His silence at the top of the show said volumes. This silence plays into the first intimate scene in the show, as his character washes Rosanna, and puts her to bed when she has passed out on the floor. His character provides another level of balance to the show. As his character starts to talk and open up, we see his character's layers unfold.
"Brilliant Traces" will continue its run through January 12. To find more information about "Brilliant Traces" or Theatre Midwest, visit https://www.theatremidwest.org/
Review written by DC Felton
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