BWW Review: ALABASTER at Florida Repertory Theatre is Powerful and Poignant
Florida Repertory Theatre's World Premiere production of ALABASTER by Audrey Cefaly, directed by Jason Parrish, brings to life a story that is inspiring and funny, but also quite dark and tragic.
ALABASTER tells the tale of June (Rachel Burttram), a woman who has suffered horrible tragedy and loss and now lives on her farm with her two goats, Weezy (Carolyn Messina) and Bib (Sara Morsey). A photographer, Alice (Dana Brooke), comes to her home to take photos of her scars and learn about what she has gone through. As the story progresses, the audience learns that June and Alice are perhaps not so different. They both have scars; they're just different kinds of scars.
Burttram and Brooke bring very real and raw emotion to their respective portrayals of June and Alice, and it was amazing to watch. The intimacy of this show and this particular theatre setting allows the audience to become very close to the story, so you really get to see the full depth of intensity that these actors experience and showcase through their characters. Their chemistry on stage was evident; they challenge each other to confront the things they're afraid to face, and some of the toughest moments of the show are so, so beautiful because of the way they push each other to grow. I can easily say that this is some of the best acting I've ever witnessed.
Messina and Morsey also had a very tough job portraying the goats in the story, Weezy and Bib, and I thought they were fantastic. Messina's Weezy is sassy and strong, and she made the audience laugh many times, but she also is very wise and acts as somewhat of a narrator for the story. She introduces the show and often confronts June to face her own thoughts and fears, making her an essential part of the plot. She also has several emotional points as she takes care of Morsey's Bib, her mother in the show, who is dying. I appreciated their commitment to these characters very much, as it is a bit of a challenge to make a goat come to life. It was done very well. I also want to mention that Morsey herself painted every piece of artwork that acts as June's art in the show. This is no small feat, and I have to commend her for all of her lovely work.
Florida Rep's ALABASTER includes a lot of details that enhance the show even more; from the set designed by Richard Crowell, to the lighting and projections designed by Rob Siler, the sound designed by Katie Lowe, and more, every part of this show works perfectly together to draw you into the lives of these women (and goats).
ALABASTER is part of a Rolling World Premiere from the National New Play Network, and Florida Rep is the first of 11 different theatres this show will be premiering at in the next year. This is an incredibly special premiere and production, and you truly don't want to miss the opportunity to see it right here, right now. This particular cast is so wonderful because you can see how passionate they are about this show, and that makes it extraordinary. Of course, if you don't live in Florida and don't have the chance to see it at Florida Rep, definitely look into seeing it elsewhere; the fact that this is the first full production is extra special, but I know I personally would love to see it as it evolves city to city.
I encourage you to hurry and get your tickets for ALABASTER at Florida Rep. This is one of the most unique, heartbreakingly beautiful shows Florida Rep has ever done, and it was an honor to see such a new and momentous production. You'll laugh, cry, and everything in between.
ALABASTER is playing in Florida Rep's ArtStage Studio Theatre now through January 26. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7 PM, Friday-Saturday at 8 PM, with 2 PM matinees on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.
Photo Credit: Joe Dafeldecker