BWW Review: DREAM CATCHER - An Intense, Spirited War of Words
DREAM CATCHER/by Stephen Sachs/directed by Cameron Watson/The Fountain Theatre/thru March 21, 2016
The world premiere of playwright Stephen Sach's DREAM CATCHER receives a strong mounting at the Fountain Theatre powered by the intensity of its two strong performers Brian Tichnell and Elizabeth Frances. Cameron Watson ably directs this one continuous eighty-minute confrontation between Roy (the youngest member of an elite team of engineers set to launch a solar energy plant in the Mojave Desert) and his girlfriend Opal (a passionate Native American who believes she's just discovered a sacred Indian burial ground). Opal's found some loose teeth that she deduces belongs to her ancestors. She's quite adamant in her belief that Roy must inform his co-workers to have the construction of the solar energy plant stopped, thereby keeping the burial ground from being desecrated.
Sachs stacks the deck with all logic and reason on Roy's side. Although concrete proof of where Opal found the unauthenticated fossils' never confirmed, the mere possibility that an undiscovered Indian burial ground could be defiled would be enough to stall Roy's billion dollar project. Mind you, extensive tests have already been undertaken to survey the intended plant site for any reasons not to build there.
DREAM CATCHER's off to a roaring start with Tichnell's entrance as Roy. Exasperated, out of breath, euphoric on his team's recent energy advancements while worried sick about Opal's steady stream of upsetting text messages; Roy arrives in the middle of the Mojave to check up on Opal. Tichnell's high energy excitement in his extended exposition/greeting to Opal ranks as an incredible tour de force. Tichnell's Roy oozes enthusiasm, likeability and good will (he wants to affect climate change and save the world.) When Frances' Opal finally gets more than a single word in, her fury presents itself as right-in-his-face ranting and ravings. The unemployed Opal lives on a reservation, her "res," wanting to have a white dude take her to a better place and a more comfortable life. (Interestingly, Opal's more ghetto-speak than reservation-speak). Sachs raises the doubt (or question) of whether a possibly obsessed Opal's making up this story deceiving Roy to rescue her out of her "res." Or, does the actually spiritual Opal really believe in her recent dream's voices that she's saving a sacred Indian burial ground? The "I'm possibly pregnant" pretense/defense also comes into play.
Kudos to set designer Jeffrey McLaughlin for his in-the-round sandy desert setting.