The Alvin Play
An attic (and production) stuffed full of talent
|Strange Tree Group presents|
|Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play|
Review by Katy Walsh
Strange Tree Group presents Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play. The Fisher family is odd. Two scandals make them the town outcasts. They’ve got skeletons in the closet and ghosts in the attic. Instead of dealing with the past dalliance and more recent murders, the Fishers pretend nothing is wrong. Dad escapes into games. Mom escapes into drugs. Alvin escapes into the attic. And Anna tries for the permanent escape from her family, marriage. When family secrets are finally shared, the Fishers have to finally deal with jolts of reality. Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play is creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky… the Fisher family!
Sure, they don’t have man-eating plants or The Thing in a box, but this family is quirky and compelling. Playwright Emily Schwartz has created an intriguing tangle of family dysfunction. The characters are fleshed out unconventionally. Schwartz uses humor and mystique to pull us along on a gothic-like thriller. Under the direction of Jess McLeod, the story unfolds in the attic. Flashbacks take on a surreality as ghosts from the past enter and exit from a crevice in the wall. In the lead, a wild-eyed Daniel Behrendt (Alvin) narrates his obsessive behavior with amusing candor. For a crazy guy in the attic, a charming Behrendt convincingly builds trust in the audience. We allow him space and time to reveal all because it’s entertaining just meeting his family. The entire ensemble is an attic stuffed full of talent. In particular, heartstring-pulling Kate Nawrocki (Lucy) and Amber Vaughn Robinson (Mary) are delightful as two playful little girls.
Set Designer Scott Davis, along with prop design/set dressing by Nawrocki and Schwartz, create a magnificent attic room with a tree and plethora of strange junk. (Ah, Strange Tree indeed!) The design team even overflows the set into the entryway hall and lobby. No longer Signal Ensemble Theatre, this is the eccentric House of Fisher. Adding to the visual appeal, Delia Baseman (Anne) plays sister and costumer designer with a flair for the dramatic. Baseman showcases a (last) turn-of-the-century look that is mourning meets exquisite. I’m in love with a green robe that Baseman actually wears herself. Sister, love the look!
There is a lot to love in Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play. This fall, visit the Fishers‘ home for an old-fashion, homespun mystery cloaked in family secrets.
Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play continues through November 7th at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice (map), with performance Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 7pm. Tickets are $25, and are available by phone (773-598-8240) or online through Eventbrite.com. More information at StrangeTree.org. (Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Tyler Core
Daniel Behrendt (Alvin Fisher); Delia Baseman* (Anne Fisher); Jennifer Marschand* (Myrna Fisher); Ron Thomas (Sylvester Fisher); Scott Cupper* (Robert Elliott); Kate Nawrocki* (Lucy); Amber Robinson (Mary); Zachary Sigelko (The Vaudevillian)
behind the scenes
Jess McLeod (director); Rebecca Phend* (production manager); Becky Bishop (stage manager); Benjamin Dawson (tech director); Scott Davis (set design); Becca Jeffords (lighting) John Kelly (master electrician); Delia Baseman* (costumes); Michael Huey* (original music, sound design); Emily Schwartz* (playwright, props); Kate Nawrocki* (props); Tyler Core* (photos); Phineas X. Jones* (graphics)
* denotes Strange Tree ensemble member/associate