BWW Review: THEO at Two River Theater Brings the Struggles and Triumphs of a Family to Life on the Red Bank Stage
"I am working on being, not doing."
By Theodore in Theo
Two River Theater (TRT) is now presenting the commissioned world premiere of Theo. This new play is written by Obie Award winner, Martin Moran and directed by Carolyn Cantor. It is a candid and moving portrait of a family whose relationships are being tested in the midst of crisis and change. Theo is proof that theatre matters. It addresses contemporary subjects with drama, humor and grace. The show will be on the Red Bank stage through Sunday, March 24.
In Theo, the family's matriarch, Margaret confronts her failing health and impending death. During this difficult time, her son, Theodore unexpectedly returns to the family's country home in the Catskills after nine years away, and finds that much has changed. His sister, Beth is a single mother in the throws of trying to understand her teenage child, Maddie who is dealing with identity issues. Beth also has a contentious relationship with Margaret and resents Theo for his long absence. And when Abe, Theo's high school acquaintance, becomes Margaret's home hospice nurse, problematic situations from Theo's past come to light. This affecting story depicts how affection, compassion, and camaraderie can be life-changing even in the toughest of times.
The highly accomplished cast of Theo masters their characters with compelling performances. Their portrayals are so genuine that you will get to know each of them intimately and care about their lives as the story unfolds. They include Zachary Booth as Theo; Jesse James Keitel as Maddy; Jon-Michael Reese as Abe; Andrea Syglowski as Beth; and Brenda Wehle as Margaret. Enthralling scenes include Theo's initial arrival to the house; the entire family dining out at a restaurant; Abe explaining the course of his career; Margaret showing papers to prove her affairs are in order; Theo recounting the birth of Maddie; Margaret telling Beth and Theo about their father; Theo meditating with Margaret; and Margaret's final moments with her family.
The Creative Team has done a top job of bringing Theo to the stage. The Team includes scenic design by Antje Ellermann; costume design by Kristin Isola; lighting design by Yuki Nakase; sound design by Leon Rothenberg; and wig design by Tommy Kurzma and fight direction by UnkleDave's Fight-House. The casting is by Heidi Griffiths & Kate Murray and the Production Stage Manager is Nathan K. Claus.
We applaud TRT for their continued commitment to presenting new works for the metro area audience. Theo is a show that should be seen and discussed. A family dynamic can be imperfect and fragile. Yet, Theo makes the point that love can be a conquering force.
Theo runs for 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. It will be presented through Sunday, March 24. Ticket prices range for the show range from $50 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from https://tworivertheater.org/ or 732.345.1400.
Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson