Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company

brilliant world premiere drama through May 26

By: May. 16, 2024
Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company
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The Body’s Midnight is a brilliant, meditative, fiercely funny and brutally heartrending world premiere drama at Boston Court Pasadena in a co-production with IAMA Theatre Company.  It is a hard play to capture in its essence, both explosively hilarious and lyrical, surreal, and profoundly mournful, a ferocious elegy to all the things that are disappearing.  The Body’s Midnight by Tira Palmquist is a quiet, transformative wonder of a play that you do not want to miss.

This is the story of a loving older couple, Anne (Keliher Walsh) and David (Jonathan Nichols–Navarro), who are ecstatic about doing an epic road trip adventure to see the birth of their first grandchild.  “No papa, no gramps, I want them to call me Action Dave,” David announces.  But behind the joy is something darker - Anne’s diagnosis that she has been suffering from strokes, there is damage to her brain, and she is losing her memory.  Anne wants to revisit places she went in her childhood, before she forgets them, and build new memories before everything vanishes.

The Body’s Midnight has sublime, intuitive, infinitely sensitive direction from Jessica Kubzansky, Boston Court’s artistic director.   The play is notable for its outstanding, raw, organic, deeply moving performances.

Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company
Sonal Shah

Keliher Walsh brings charm, humor and realism to the lead role of Anne, immersing us instantly into her life and her suffering without ever a hint of self pity.  Superb actor Jonathan Nichols–Navarro has layers and layers of unspoken depth and truthfulness in his performance as her husband David.  Nichols–Navarro's work is a thing of beautiful and rare authenticity.

Sonal Shah is least convincing as Anne's daughter and expectant mother of her grandchild, but she is gutsily brilliant and refreshing in the incarnations of quirky rangers and truckers that she plays throughout, ballsy, hilarious, idiosyncratic, unfiltered, wise, and pissed off.  Shah is a tremendously compelling, charismatic performer.  

Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company
Ryan Garcia

Ryan W. Garcia brings a delicious, quirky, haunting weirdness to the strange roadside characters he inhabits, making them instantly iconic.  I adored watching Garcia's spellbinding performance.  I firmly believe Calico Ghost Town, Stay-Hydrated Franklin needs his own show.

For a drama about loss, The Body’s Midnight is surprisingly laugh-out-loud hilarious, in a low-key, everyday foibles and quirks of life way.  It reminds me of classic wry comedies that I absolutely adore and re-watch obsessively, like Mike Judge’s Office Space and Christopher Guest’s Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.  Playwright Tira Palmquist writes swearing in The Body’s Midnight that is nonstop, with a joyful, juicy bite into profanity.

Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company
Sonal Shah and Keliher Walsh

There is a large interactive map in the Boston Court lobby, where audience members are encouraged to share stories of their own American adventures.  Having myself just taken a road trip cross country, I find The Body’s Midnight to be particularly meaningful. There is something about losing yourself in the vastness, the weirdness, the wildness of America’s lands, it is a very Walt Whitman experience.  And on this recent epic road rip, I stayed on a farm in Louisiana that belonged to a loving retired couple. The husband devoted himself to caring for his wife, who suffers from dementia.   What is it to care for someone who is slowly unbecoming themselves?

Review: THE BODY'S MIDNIGHT at Boston Court Pasadena in co-production with IAMA Theatre Company
Keliher Walsh

In a poignant talk with the actors after The Body's Midnight, the cast share their own personal experiences with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.  Keliher Walsh remembers that her mother told her, "I don't know who you are, but you are a lovely person and I love spending time with you."  Sonal Shah shares that theatre is her spirit guide, helping her through the hard times.  Jonathan Nichols–Navarro says simply, "dementia is the cruelest thing on this planet - that's when I stopped believing in God."

The staging of The Body's Midnight is absolutely lovely, imaginative, and transcendent, weaving in a sense of wonder along with the raw darkness.  I love the way that the stagecraft is approached lyrically, rather than literally.  There is subtle, luminous, magic-giving work from scenic designer Nicholas Ponting,  sound designer John Zalewski, lighting designer Benedict Conran, and projections designers David Murakami and Sam Clevenger.

Photos by Brian Hashimotoo

The Body's Midnight runs through May 26th at Boston Court Pasadena.  Boston Court Pasadena is located at 70 N Mentor Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106.  There is free parking on site at the theatre.  You can get tickets by calling (626) 683-6801 or clicking on the button below:




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