Friday, December 2, 2011

Excellent production lifts Wooden Snowflakes

by Gerry Roe

Amana - Aside from church pageants, most plays about Christmas seem intended for children or television. The Old Creamery’s Studio Stage has found a play that definitely appeals to grown-ups and has given it a fine intimate production starring two Old Creamery favorites, Tom Milligan and Deborah Kennedy. In addition, these two actors are responsible for costume design and props (Kennedy) and scene design and overall direction (Milligan). So it is clear these two have invested their ample talents in this production. And all they have done has been done well—very well, indeed.

The play takes place in rural Kentucky on Christmas Eve. Two people meeting by chance on Christmas Eve—well, you can predict much of what will happen. But there must be complication—and complication there is in abundance. Milligan’s character, Simon Peter Witacker is a kind, good man, a Santa Claus both literally and figuratively to his community, but lonely, having never known love. He is a woodcarver and the set shows evidence of his artisanship including carved wooden snowflakes and other ornaments. He meets Kennedy’s character, whom we know only as Eve, when her car skids on the icy road and nearly strikes him before colliding with a tree. Of course he comes to her aid, bringing her into his cozy house and offering comfort and warmth. She is eager to get her car towed and repaired so she can be on the road to Cincinnati, she says, to meet with physicians and clinical personnel about pharmaceuticals. Turns out she, too, is lonely! After each of them declares or admits to loneliness, the happy ending seems inevitable to us—but not to them.

This description is reasonably accurate but it leaves out the most important element of this production. These two actors bring a truth to their playing that makes the play seem fresh and alive. They work so well together that we are carried along to their coming together and the little miracle that seals their fate. Milligan and Kennedy are a delight to watch and listen to. Milligan’s light Kentucky accent seems just right and the duo has impeccable timing. In short, the play is adequate; the production superior. With this studio production, The Old Creamery Theatre passes along a Christmas greeting. I can only wish them a happy new year.

The Studio Stage production continues through December 18. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 7:30, Sunday matinees begin at 3:00. For more information go here.

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