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Anatomy of a Hug
a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Kat Ramsburg

COMPANY : New Origins Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onion Man [WEBSITE]
ID# 4964

SHOWING : September 29, 2016 - October 09, 2016

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Amelia’s mother is "Compassionately Released" from prison after a cancer diagnosis, leaving Amelia to decide how much she is obligated to help the woman whose crimes placed her in foster care.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Emily Sams
Amelia Sarah Hitzel
Sonia Mary Claire Klooster
Ben Eric Lang
Iris Barbara Washington
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REVIEWS

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Grey’s Anatomy of a Hug
by playgoer
Monday, October 3, 2016
4.5
Kat Ramsburg’s "Anatomy of a Hug" is on its way to taking the nation by storm. New Origins’ production is one of several planned around the country in the near future. And the play is definitely worthy of being seen.

The play requires three separate playing areas -- Amelia’s apartment, her workstation and adjacent table (which could be considered a separate location), and outside her apartment -- so it does not seem well-suited to the intimate Onion Man space. Set designer Emily Sams has managed to cram all the locations in, though, and done it in a pretty attractive way. Lighting designer Daniel Carter Brown does a terrific job of illuminating the various locations, even adding in a window effect for the apartment when the imaginary curtains on an imaginary window are parted. The set is cramped, but eminently workable.

Costumes, designed by director Emily Sams, work exceedingly well too. Her sound design is fine, used to effect in wordless sequences that separate a few of the scenes. But it is her direction that really shines. Her blocking allows the actors to navigate the set with a minimum of difficulty, which is a prime duty of a director. But it is their acting that really takes this show to a higher level. Ms. Sams has shaped the show to build in intensity in a very natural and effective way.

Each of the four actors does superb work. Barbara A. Washington invests Iris with wise good will, providing the glue that initially allows Sonia (Mary Claire Klooster) to coexist with Amelia (Sarah Hitzel). Ms. Klooster plays age and illness exceedingly well as Sonia, while Ms. Hitzel harnesses her emotions beautifully as the withdrawn, resentful Amelia, making us care greatly about her despite her sometimes sullen behavior. Eric Lang rounds out the cast as Ben, Amelia’s co-worker whose goofy charm attempts to make inroads on her reserve. They work together in ways that feel real and heartfelt.

The script makes LOTS of references to TV shows, since Amelia basically does nothing but work (at a charity attempting to find sponsors for poor children from Burundi) and watch television. Some TV references slide past if you’re not familiar with the show being referenced, but the main point of the references is eventually made clear.

"Eventually" is a good word to describe how the plot unfolds. We first see Sonia being left off at Amelia’s apartment by Iris, but we don’t know why she has arrived and what the connection is between Sonia and Amelia. We’re pulled into the story, observing compelling characters as relationships clarify over time. There’s a past murder at the center of things, but that is one point that Kat Ramsburg’s script doesn’t really spell out. We know we’re hearing about it from two different perspectives, but there’s not enough detail on either side to make sense of what happened to cause the death and why it was prosecuted as a murder.

Caring for family members (biological or chosen) and the power of physical contact are themes that run throughout the play. There’s a sweetness at the heart of the story, but it’s a damaged heart that takes the full length of the play to let the sweetness in (or is it to let the sweetness out?). We care about these characters, and we care about their relationships. Emily Sams and the cast are doing a bang-up job of bringing this affecting story to life. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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