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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
It's a startlingly relevant play and Lewie, played with frozen vulnerability by Mark St. Amant, personifies not only the town but the country. When Dennis (Darin Singleton) tells him he knows the names of Grace's killers, now in prison, Lewie sees no need to pass them on to the Sheriff (Paul Dillon), who is always angry and fiercely trying to bring justice to an indifferent town. Bartender Bill (Bradley Fisher) epitomizes the nosy quality of small towners, as he tries to listen in and find out more about the Sheriff's interrogations. Lewie will miss Grace's widower Doug (David Paluck) when he leaves town with his new wife, schoolteacher Lisa (Ann Noble), for new jobs and more opportunities but he knows Grace would be glad Doug is happy and he is, too.
Neveu's play is sometimes slow, with dialogue that doesn't seem to advance action but its beauty is the rare way in which he evokes this time and place, regionally and nationally. In a downbeat life we all try to spend time in the past with the people we loved and lost. Lewie is one of those dramatic characters one always remembers, unaffected, unchanging, no arc, just who he is and how he remains a product of what happened to him.
Dado directs vividly, spotlighting the ghosts on various levels of Ian Garrett's wood-walled rustic set. She has an instinct for making the play's fantasy real and Garrett has created a set that draws you in, complemented by Leigh Allen's design of dying light.
In addition to St. Amant's whacked-out brilliance and Dillon's ferocity, the excellent cast includes David Paluck, who injects solidity and integrity into Doug, whose character the playwright simply implies. Bradley Fisher's Bill is a guy who was born to live behind a bar with all the volubility and nose for news that goes with it. Darin Singleton's Dennis has an interesting back story he does not illuminate. Ann Noble is Doug's school teacher wife Lisa, whose kindness struggles against her obvious desire to get away from Grace's ghost; Deborah Puette is Grace, the beautiful ghost whose part again is merely indicated by the author and fleshed out through the memories of the other characters. Finally, there's Matthew Scott Montgomery as Mark, the speechless grocery clerk whose youth speaks for itself in a striking reminder of the many innocent murder victims in today's world.
Trumbull Stickney's haunting poem "Mnemosyne" closes with "It rains across the country I remember". It could be an epitaph for this evocative play.