BWW Review: A PEREGRINE FALLS at The Wild Project
Here's some fast food for thought: In a sky fall known as a stoop, a Peregrine falcon targeting airborne prey can accelerate to a speed of 200 miles per hour (as fast as a Porsche 911 Turbo S). The predatory plummet, although beautiful to watch, is designed to stun, wound and kill.
A Peregrine Falls at The Wild Project doesn't need to travel at breakneck speed to make an impact. Clocking in at two hours/two acts/four scenes, it moseys between three locales: a Texas hospital, a hospital court, and a car dealership. Along the way, it makes a surprising avian/automotive connection, all while hatching the story of how abuse stuns and wounds a family, collectively and individually. These birds of a feather may flock together, but their suffering is subjective.
The heart of the story beats in Kailey (Erin Treadway), the formerly estranged daughter from Idaho who shows up with little forewarning, desperately seeking to be seen as healthy and successful despite her arrested development and experience that "hospitals dehumanize." Treadway's naïve optimism gives wing to a new level of assertiveness as she hunts for missing truth. She says straight away, "I am not crazy."
As Uncle Taylor/Narrator, Kevin Cristaldi disarms us with his smile-loaded charisma, providing contextual details and foreshadowing ("Sometimes it's impossible to see what's right in front of you.") In addition to the role of Taylor, Cristaldi also plays Jared (Kailey's husband ), Mr. Timpson (Kailey's lawyer), and an ob/gyn nurse. He's likable...enough.
The play's heavy subject matter is lightened by three other characters. First up are Charlie and Leece (Sidney Williams and Julia Brothers), Kailey's parents. Charlie is a Willy Loman-esque lovable lump who owns/manages a car dealership ("He'll bend over backward!" to make a deal). To his pious wife's delight, he has quit drinking, returned to church, and even resurrected his tithing. Williams pivots between his myriad difficult relationships with a world-weariness that has us rooting for him.
Fierce and frazzled, Leece rules the roost with a keen eye for functional fashion ("No one looks guilty in a sun dress!") and a sixth sense for divine connections.
Brothers, portraying a meddling mom who has an empty nest but a full agenda, adds heart even where words lack soul:
LEECE: "You have to take care of yourself / especially you / with your history/a??Cause if you don't who will? Your husband? /a??Ha! / Don't make me laugh! I meant husbands in general / abstract 'husbands'/ I didn't mean Jared/ a??No he's /great"
The world in Peregrine seems to revolve around Leece, and she never lets us forget it. Like a mother bird trying to force feed her young (in this case, beef jerky to a vegan), she's in control:
LEECE: "Do you want to get migraines / life-altering migraines / like I did? I got so sick I threw up everything/ I threw up food / I threw up water / I threw up intestines / I threw up happiness."
Randy (Mason Walker) works in the car dealership as a servant leader wise beyond his years, adding some comedic humanity to the narrative. No doubt he'll run the place someday.
Amidst much denial and delusion, the members of the family try to make sense of an impossibly twisted situation. When facts, feelings and fiction collide, Kailey's memory offers some poetic justice:
KAILEY:" Do you remember what you used to say was my talent?"
KAILEY: "Poetic mind. You said my thoughts were 'governed by the logic of a poem' --I never forgot that."
Original music by David Handler helps underscore an ominous tone for the drama; Zoë Hurwitz (Scenic Design) and Simon Cleveland (Lighting Design) blend standard furniture with some LED lighting solutions that give the show a modern vibe.
Produced by Loading Dock Theatre and presented in association with The Workshop Theater, The Wild Project presents this developmental production of the drama A PEREGRINE FALLS, a new play by Leegrid Stevens, directed by Padraic Lillis.
The Workshop Theater's mission is the rigorous development and production of new American plays and musicals that transport, challenge and surprise both artists and audiences.
Performances are February 9th-29th; tickets are available here.
Photos: Clinton Brandhagen