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Strange Snow

a Drama
by Stephen Metcalfe

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center
ID# 3864

SHOWING : November 05, 2010 - November 21, 2010



Though combat has ended abroad, the war still wages at home. Leaving no man behind, a Vietnam vet goes back for a final mission -- to save his buddy from self-destruction while discovering the meaning of family, friendship, and hope.

Proceeds from the show will benefit the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance. This group helps veterans with transportation, food, paying rent and utilities, job training, and scholarships for children of vets among other things.

The subject matter of this play deals with veterans returning from extraordinary circumstances and events who are trying to assimilate into ordinary life. Mature language. Not recommended for audiences under age 15.

Director Joanie McElroy
Martha Lauren Noel Broussard
Megs Joshua David Simpson
Dave Edward Smucygz
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__range _no_
by playgoer
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Lionheart Theatre's "Strange Snow" by Stephen Metcalfe involves three characters: Dave (Edward Smucygz, a trucker and Vietnam vet who uses his weekends to booze up; Martha (Lauren Broussard), his plain Jane sister who is not interested in becoming a spinster schoolteacher; and Megs (Joshua David Simpson), a charmingly over-the-top mechanic and Vietnam friend of Dave's who shows up on opening day of fishing season. The action follows the disruptions in Dave's and Martha's lives caused by the presence of Megs. Both Dave and Megs show the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, with some resolution achieved at the end as they come to grips with the death in Vietnam of their pal Bobby.

In order to pull off this show, three powerhouse actors are needed. Lionheart has attracted good actors, but they're not all ideal matches for their characters. The one who is most convincing is Lauren Broussard, whose make-up and costume make her appear plain and shapeless. In the presence of the optimistic Megs, she loosens up in ways that sometimes seem aimed primarily at getting a reaction out of her brother. It's an understated, but nicely balanced performance. Edward Smucygz does a great job as a drunk and makes his final moments work. His breakdown scene, though, doesn't ring completely true. As for Joshua David Simpson, he performs with great energy, but Megs is not a natural fit for him. The role needs a quirky, slightly dangerous actor who will take the role, inhabit it, and make it a career-defining triumph. That's a tall order for any actor, and has probably limited the appeal of this play. These are the sorts of roles that movie stars take on when they want to impress the theatrical community with their acting chops. Being enthralling isn't something that can be achieved easily, and is probably most in reach of someone already well-known to the audience. There's nothing wrong with Mr. Simpson's performance; it's just not sheer perfection, that's all.

The production has a couple of especially vivid directorial touches: an opening video by Andrew Schwab of stock Vietnam footage that sets the scene of what Dave and Megs have experienced, and a wordless scene (likewise accompanied by a soundtrack) that provides a transition between the start and end of the evening meal to which Martha has invited Megs. It's a nice directorial job by Joanie McElroy, with all the right beats in place, but it doesn't quite come off.

The set, lighting, and sound are all fine. Props tend to be too prop-ish, with cupboards and refrigerator filled just with the items needed in the show. I found it jarring each time the refrigerator door opened and absolutely nothing was seen on the inside of the door. The scattering of empty beer cans on the floor seemed to be done with randomness, rather than with some understanding of Dave's likely drinking patterns. That negatively affected the believability of the show, which requires naturalistic detail to truly draw the audience in. There's nothing big that's wrong with Lionheart Theatre's "Strange Snow," but all the little pieces don't add up into as satisfying a whole as might be the case. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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