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BWW Reviews: REDWOOD CURTAIN at Primal Forces

If you go out in the woods're not going to find the teddy bears having their picnic. At least not in Primal Forces REDWOOD CURTAIN now playing in Fort Lauderedale. What you will find is one very large, angry ex-soldier, bellowing for his dog, Bitch, and reliving Viet Nam. And a young Asian American girl tracking him through the trees. Are you my father?

Written by Lanford Wilson and having a limited run on Broadway in 1993, REDWOOD CURTAIN is the third of this season's trilogy of "Theatre of the Counterculture and other Revolutions" presented by Keith Garsson's Primal Forces. Not as strongly written as the first two plays, David Mamet's The Anarchist, and Dominique Morisseau's Sunset Baby, it's a one act that jams the plight of the returning Viet Nam vets, the anguish of the teenager searching for herself and her birth family, her talent as a piano prodigy, the alcoholism of her adoptive father, and the fate of the forest into a fast ninety minutes. And of course a little mysticism and mismatched eyes, the ex-soldier having one brown and one blue as does the teenager.

Failings in the script become minor, however, when Ethan Henry as Lyman the ex-soldier, Laura Turnbull as Geneva and Amarie Lee as Geri tell the tale. Henry and Turnbull are strong, experienced actors. The poignancy of Henry's brutal, broken soldier, wanting to be only alone, memory lost but ripped by flashbacks, is moving, matched only by Turnbull's resigned comforting of her niece, Lee, who will do anything to find her father. This is Lee's first play as a professional and she does well with the two veterans.

Tim Bennett's huge redwood trees and foliage engulf the small stage, revolving to reveal Geneva's living room complete with piano. Sound design by David Hart, lights by Robert D. Nation and costumes by Linda Shorrock.

Director Keith Garsson has gotten everything possible out of a somewhat meagre, talky script, presenting a well acted, well designed production worth viewing.

REDWOOD CURTAIN plays through May 3 at Andrews Living Arts, 23 NW 5th Street, Fort Lauderdale.


Photo: Ethan Henry, Laura Turnbull

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