Review of Visiting Mr. Green
By Jeff Baron
Directed by David L. Yen

For tickets & schedule:
www.6thstreetplayhouse.com
6th Street Playhouse
Santa Rosa, CA

RUN: March 17 – April 2, 2017
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

(March 26, 2017)

6th Street Playhouse - Visiting Mr Green

Photo © Eric Chazankin

When it comes to family, expectations are rooted out of genuine concern, but that can make them the least understanding people in our lives, and the hardest to tell about choices that will not be approved of. In Visiting Mr. Green, two generations are thrown together, suspicious and wary at first, used to their own solitary ways, until familiarity and time pry open their hearts. Playwright Jeff Baron draws on personal experience to humanize both characters—from the seemingly closed minded Mr. Green to forward thinking Ross Gardiner, in scenes that are vibrantly familiar. Their clashing points of view are tempered by gentle personalities, willing to listen and apologize during misunderstandings.

The story takes place in a series of scenes set a week apart, requiring swift costume and set changes. David L. Yen’s direction keeps it simple enough to be accomplished with swift dexterity. The brief pause between scenes gives a breath of time to reflect, leading into the next encounter. Sam Transleau’s set design recreates a vintage apartment of a shut in who is disinterested in change. Touches of unseen characters influence it—a coat from Mr. Green’s wife Yetta, a photograph of Rachel. Their spirits are as present in the play as the men that we see onstage.

6th Street Playhouse - Visiting Mr Green

Photo © Eric Chazankin

Al Kaplan is magnificent as Mr. Green; his family background influences the portrayal with a natural attitude toward Ross, and brings an emotional resonance to their relationship. When the younger man appears, broken, rejected by his family, Mr. Green reaches out and becomes the father Ross needs, overcoming his personal beliefs out of compassion. Kevin Kieta’s Ross Gardiner is a vulnerable performance, maturing the character from a man who feels he must pretend to be someone else to pushing past what has been holding him back. Kieta’s outbursts of truth resonate with anyone who has been restricted from admitting who they are for fear of isolation and censure.

Visiting Mr. Green encourages reaching for reconciliation in an active way, rather than waiting for it to magically happen. It is a difficult road, and will not occur overnight—it requires constant work and a willingness to articulate the pain without holding back. Spend an evening at 6th Street Playhouse with two courageous characters in Visiting Mr. Green’s powerful reflection on fatherhood.