BWW Review: IN MY MIND'S EYE: An Exploration Of Relying On Inner Intuitions & Overcoming Obstacles at Group Repertory Theatre
We are first introduced to a young girl, a very assertive, opinionated young girl, definitely with a strong sense of identity, and self worth. She is heard speaking, which we come to find out is us hearing her inner thoughts and feelings, through her "Mind's Eye," her vocally taped diary, into a recorder.
The time is 1968.
We first view her as she runs, into, outside ~ an elderly man who has fallen in their garden, helping him up and, concerned, guides him inside her home, where she spends much of her sheltered life. Patty, played quite brilliantly by Peyton Kirkner, is both honest and earnest in her connection with her new and only friend, Calhoon (played wonderfully and with much heart by Lloyd Pedersen). They were instant friends; and even though Patty is legally blind they easily shared conversation. The actors totally conveyed that feeling, so it was all the more heart-wrenching when her mom, Lola Henderson, played determinedly by Maria Kress, who, understandably, is ultra protective, comes home and just couldn't fathom this new connection ~ having been the caretaker-mom all of Patty's life, this was a concern she had not yet encountered. Flash forward, and back and forth, throughout the rest of the play, this played out and developed one of the underlying themes while at the same time we were fast-forwarded to Patty (aka now renamed by herself, Trish) as a school teacher in 1981.
Patty/Trish has followed her early longings and has become what no one expected, a schoolteacher, a World Geography teacher at a Junior High! It is her first day, and Trish, played captivatingly and effervescently by Kait Haire, ends up meeting a charming teacher from the classroom next door who captures her spirit and helps her through her first day jitters. Hugo, played disarmingly and nobly by Bobby Slaski, secretly impresses Trish. He seems the perfect type for her, and we see their relationship blossom, albeit some issues to do with her mom accepting her diminished role in her daughter's life. They have connected on a whole different level, that transcends superfluous considerations.
Clara Rodriguez plays an appropriately matter-of-fact Dean of the junior high, yet with a tender touch.
When you get used to the time switches during the play, happening sometimes seemingly randomly, everything makes more sense in the end. Once I understood all the connections between the characters, it was a very engrossing and thought-provoking study in human behavior, needs and expectations.
Inspired by true events in his life with a childhood teacher, Doug Haverty, the diverse and accomplished playwright, originally workshopped and developed this play through Lonny Chapman's (The Founder and Artistic Director of Group Repertory Theatre) Playwright's Unit, in the early '80s and it was the first full-length play to be produced in their current theatre location. Doug, as the new Artistic Director as of this year, is carrying on the tradition of reinstating Lonny Chapman's Playwriting Unit, to help develop new and important works. That has always been Lonny's goal. Mr. Haverty has brought back his award-winning play to jump-start this new and exciting season.
There are many moving moments during the play, and it has a lot to say about overcoming and dealing with challenges that can be complicated, yet, with determination, can be conquered.
Direction by Bruce Kimmel is well-constructed, especially when blending the time differences in Patty's/Trish's age. The differences and the likenesses of the younger vs. older Patty are clearly defined, enriching the character and what she signifies. All of the characters portrayed are kind and caring individuals, who only want the best outcome.
The incidental music throughout was composed by Director Bruce Kimmel, which added greatly to the mood and feel of the play. The set design, by Pawena Sriha was extremely workable to allow time changes to transition seamlessly. Lighting and Costuming, by Douglas Gabrielle and Michael Mullen was enhancing and well-suited.
"In My Mind's Eye," Running at the Group Repertory Theater, through March 15th, it is an excellent play to launch GRT's 46th season, and paves the way to more special and moving presentations.
Produced by Bita Arefnia.
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Photos Courtesy of Doug Engalla