Review of Three Viewings
By Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Diane Bailey
For tickets / schedule :
Church of One Tree, Santa Rosa, CA
RUN: April 1 – 16, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(April 2, 2016)
Theatre Anew is driven by a need to present plays in unique environments inspired by the intended settings. Since Three Viewings takes place in a small chapel, they are presenting it in Santa Rosa’s historic Church of the One Tree. Built in 1873, it has a lovely quiet feel inside with nature based stained glass depictions of forests and flora. The set is a comfortable settee with flower arrangements that rotate in color based on the three stories—red for the passionate Tell-Tale, white for mournful Thief of Tears, and yellow depicting a wave of hope in Thirteen Things About Ed Carpolotti.
Because of its nature as a series of monologues, the actors have full responsibility for the success of each story, inspired by the playwright’s conversations with funeral directors, a fascination that began with his father’s death. Three Viewings premiered in 1995, and this production is set during that time period, evident in the costume design.
Tell-Tale was influenced by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart, and is a painfully accurate depiction of unrequited love. Steven David Martin as Emil is spectacular—his deep love is so palpable on stage that it brings to life the woman he speaks of without her ever appearing. We feel his exhilaration and defeat, and a difficult monologue expands with fervent desire.
Sandra Ish as the complex woman Mac in Thief of Tears sparkles like the diamonds her character lusts for. On the surface, Mac is a superficial gold digger who cares for no one, but when she goes for the big score at her grandmother’s funeral, the façade cracks, revealing an ocean of anguish beneath.
In the final monologue, Virginia (Diane Bailey) struggles under the weight of debtors left behind by her husband’s thoughtless business dealings. While the intense makeup was a distraction at first, Bailey’s depiction of the artless housewife coming to grips with a life crashing around her was moving and especially tragic to a generation looking toward a future where retirement is a fairy tale of the past. Virginia’s tearful realization that there might be no house, car, or provision for the end of her life is the cry of so many today, young and old.
Three Viewings is a hidden gem in Santa Rosa, and one not to miss. It is both hopeful and melancholy—an exquisite staging of Jeffrey Hatcher’s play in an apt setting.