Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Attention to details, strong acting enliven "Strange Snow" at SVSU

review by Janet I. Martineau
Details. Details. Details.
Oh my gosh they shine in SVSU’s production of “Strange Snow,” which opened Tuesday night in the Black Box Theatre.
Bloody knuckles and noses, upset stomachs,  the dirty hands and nails of a mechanic, an 1970s aura apartment filled with crap from that timeframe, soup poured from a pot and brewing coffee, a flower child dress, big eyeglass frames, cherry tomatoes...we could go on.
Rustin Myers, Cassidy Morey in a light-hearted moment

Bravo director David Rzeszutek, scenic designer Jerry Dennis and costume designer Elise Shannon for making this show live and breath with realism.
But, of course, plays are far more about their scrips and acting than about the window dressing.
And for the most part “Strange Snow,” playing through Friday night, delivers just as strongly there as well.
Written by Stephen Metcalfe, “Strange Snow” deals with two small-town, working-class buddies who served in Vietnam and lost their best buddy there. 

One lives with his school teacher sister now, and a romance is developing between her and her brother’s buddy -- much to the brother’s anger.

To be truthful this is not the strongest script in the world and reverts to one to many cliches about love and war and healing. But its three characters are despite that interesting people -- and played strongly by David Ryan as the overly enthusiastic and high energy Megs, Cassidy Morey as the shy sister, and Rustin Myers as the depressed, angry and alcohol-sodden brother.
It is such a joy to watch their emotion-filled faces in this small theater, to watch their body English, to observe them move with realism and comfort around the set with its kitchen, dining area and living room. These three are living their characters in full throttle, and we often notice our own faces are mirroring theirs as we get caught up in the humor, pathos and coming to terms progression of the play.

Their only glitch comes when the two men finally, in a heated exchange, reveal what it was that happened in Vietnam -- to them and to their buddy. The passion is rightfully intense here, but the words exchanged a little too fast and furious and less clearly enunciated for the audience to catch it all. 
Rzeszutek has set the play in Massachusetts to give his cast an exercise in a difficult accent. Morey is spot on with it  from start to finish, whether she is being coy and shy or raging at her brother in fed-up anger. She also is the one of the trio who shows the most movement in her character evolving and changing and it is delightful to watch the progression.
Myers is, frankly, rather scary. From the get go his David is like a coiled rattlesnake and we are not sure when he is going to strike, and at whom, and why. We just know that his character is oozing with something pent up and it makes us uncomfortable -- except for that one brief moment he teases his sister about her love life and she teases back. Nice performance all around although his accent comes and goes.
Ryan seems to have no accent at all, and struggles throughout with lines, but his Megs is an enjoyable high-energy yet gentle giant guy trying to bring some spark of life back into sullen David. But, we start to suspect, is that high-energy and enthusiasm hiding something as well. And when it erupts out of nowhere, we jump in our seat we are so startled.
Over the years we tend to judge the impact of a play on whether or not we give a rip about its characters beyond the ending of the play, Do we care what the next day, next year, next decade is like in their lives.
With these three characters, thanks more to the performances than the lines, we cared a lot.

1 comment: