Review: Falling: A Wake (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)

| March 17, 2012
Jane Baxter Miller (Elsie) and Mark Ulrich (Harold) - Rivendell Theatre, Falling A Wake       
Falling: A Wake 

Written by Gary Kirkham  
Directed by Victoria Deiorio
at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge (map)
thru April 14  |  tickets: $28.50   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


A quirky love story emerges from tragic event


Jane Baxter Miller (Elsie), Mark Ulrich (Harold) and Will Crouse (Boy)

Rivendell Theatre presents
Falling: A Wake

Review by Katy Walsh 

In the movie “Crash,” there is an unforgettable statement: ‘we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.‘   I believe that’s true.  People go about their daily routines with suppressed emotions.  It takes the jolt of an unexpected impact to release feelings.  

Jane Baxter Miller (Elsie), Mark Ulrich (Harold) - Rivendell, Falling A WakeRivendell Theatre Ensemble presents the Midwest premiere of Falling: A Wake.

In the middle of the night, an airplane explodes over a sleepy Canadian village.  A shocked couple must deal with the remains in their yard.  As they await first responders to the crash site, the couple muse about their life, their love and their loss.  Falling: A Wake starts out explosive but levels out into a gentle lulling story.

In Rivendell’s new black box theatre, a simulation of an airplane crash is a heart-pumping terror!  The perfect acoustics ignite a “Diehard” adrenaline rush.  My spidey sense is on red alert and I’m ready for an action drama.  But this show isn’t about dismemberment at a crash site.  It’s not horror. It’s a love story… 25 years in the making.  Playwright Gary Kirkham lost his best friend in the 1988 Lockerbie terrorist bombing of a Pan Am flight.  Falling: A Wake is a tribute to his friend and his friend’s parents.  Kirkham penned witty and natural dialogue.  Director and Sound Designer Victoria DeIorio stages it first with intensity, and later authenticity. 

Under DeIorio’s direction, Jane Baxter Miller (Elsie) and Mark Ulrich (Harold) are so in sync it’s hard to believe they aren’t married.  They finish each other’s sentences, give each other a hard time and worry more about the other one’s comfort.  They are adorable.  (They remind me of my parents.)   Ulrich is delightful as he avoids dealing with the dead body in the yard by focusing on Elsie’s needs.  Ulrich puts on Miller’s slippers.  I almost cry.  It is an intimate, old- fashion, sweet moment. When realization finally sets in, Ulrich endears with tender sadness.  Miller charms as a chatterbox.  She engages with a narration of their marriage that is heartfelt and sweet.  Through her eyes, we invest in this couple’s life.  As she unravels over the tragedy, it is all that more beautiful and poignant.     

Falling: A Wake is a powerful day-in-the-life of a couple. The realism is this marriage is working AND it’s stuck.  It takes a crash to help the spouses feel.  DeIorio does such a fantastic job simulating a plane crash that is makes the transition to the marriage-focus a little anti-climatic.  This could be off-putting to accident junkies hoping for some blood and gore.  For me, dead body or not, Falling: A Wake is a quirky love story that make me go ahhhhh!       

Rating: ★★★

Falling: A Wake continues through April 14th at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, and Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm.  Tickets are $28.50, and are available online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at  (Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission)

Jane Baxter Miller, Mark Ulrich, Victoria Toy DeIorio, Victoria DeIorio, Stephanie Hurovitz, Will Crouse

All photos by Joe Mazza 




Jane Baxter Miller (Elsie), Mark Ulrich (Harold), Will Crouse (Boy)

behind the scenes

Victoria DeIorio (director, sound designer); Patrick Fries (production manager); Stephanie Hurovitz (stage manager); Janice Pytel (costumes); Linda Buchanan (set design); Jason Fassl (lighting); Joanna Iwanicka (props); Ann Shanahan (dramaturg); Joe Mazza (photos)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2012 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Rivendell Theatre

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Comments are closed.