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The Wilderness
a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson

COMPANY : The Fern Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 4704

SHOWING : April 03, 2015 - April 19, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

In the wake of a traumatic event, three women suddenly tumble into a world where the shadows of the past have grown legs, arms and teeth. As an ever-tangling wilderness grows, a caustic telephone operator, a hyper-efficient outfitter, a pushy sinkhole expert, and a brutal Woodswoman help the women find the strength to face what haunts them before the thing in the forest finds its way in.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jennifer Acker
Operator/Outfitter/Friend/Sinkhole Exper Kirsten Calvert
Woman Betty Mitchell
Girl Mary Ruth Ralston
Paula Mary Saville
Woodswoman Angelica Spence
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REVIEWS

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A Groundhog Day of Physical Abuse
by playgoer
Friday, April 10, 2015
4.0
Theroun D’Arcy Patterson’s "The Wilderness" posits an existence in which past, present, and future occur simultaneously. Paula bears the signs of physical abuse by her unseen man in younger (Mary Ruth Ralston), middle-aged (Mary Saville), and older (Betty Mitchell) forms. After a suicide attempt, she finds herself in Limbo, where she takes a self-defense course from a woodswoman (Angelica Spence) that will enable her to save all three forms of herself.

It’s a little confusing at first, of course, but explanations are provided by a suicide line operator (Kirsten Calvert) who morphs into several other characters that interact with the three Paulas. Ms. Calvert’s role is the flashiest, and her excellent timing (particularly in conjunction with Ms. Mitchell) leads to several laughs. The others play intense characters who aren’t nearly as much fun. Performances across the board are excellent, with the sections involving Ms. Saville the most riveting, since she is as confused by her situation as the audience initially is and her stakes seem the highest.

The set design by Elizabeth Jarrett makes full use of the narrow, high playing space, filling stage left with hanging plastic sheets with painted tree trunks, to represent the wilderness, and filling the main part of the stage with three levels (living room, bedroom, and bathroom). Lights and costumes, by Jessica Fern Hunt, and sound, by Joel Coady, add greatly to the atmosphere of the show. It’s a very nice design on a budget. Director Jennifer Alice Acker has done a nice job of using the space, although actors lying on the floor are not always visible from upper seats. She has also done a nice job of setting the flow of the show, although Christen Orr’s fight choreography lets the flow slow down somewhat.

I can’t say that it all made complete sense to me. We’re never told what happens to Paula’s abusive mate, and the end scene, in which all three Paulas seem content, doesn’t quite mesh with a suicide attempt by the younger Paula that has most strongly affected middle-aged Paula. The timeline of when (or if or how) the abuse ended doesn’t make sense in terms of a linear past-to-present-to-future progression. But that’s not really the intention of the show. Mr. Patterson has created a show that seems right at the visceral level, making us happy to suspend disbelief for the running time of little more than an hour.
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