Sunday, June 10, 2012

Brilliant Traces Exercises the Mind and the Heart

by Meghan D'Souza

Urban Theater Project—Pack the tissues if you plan to attend Brilliant Traces, performed by the Urban Theater Project of Iowa. This play introduces us to complete recluse Henry, who has spent a year avoiding human interaction in his small home in Alaska, and utterly heartbroken Rosannah, who barges into his home donning a wedding dress when her car breaks down nearby during a blizzard.

The audience slowly learns about the characters and how their histories shape who they are throughout the play. It is an interesting story where much of what is said in the beginning eventually intertwines and makes sense as the story moves along.

The set design was clever, with a cot, small stove, kitchen supplies and table and chairs all arranged and minimally decorated in a way that made it feel like the audience was peering in to a tiny cabin that belonged to a single man.

The downside of the play is that it takes a while for this story to take shape. However, this is not the fault of the actors. This is more, I suspect, the result of the script. Alex Williams was very intense as Henry, using his whole body to project the anxieties he felt at having the stranger intrude into his space and challenge him to face issues he had tucked away. His ability to relay a story as Henry was absolutely captivating and believable, as though he truly did live the experiences himself.

Thus, the need for tissues. He is so believable, he left many audience members in tears. This is a play for a night when you want to bring your brain and think about how our experiences shape our behavior.

Brilliant Traces runs through June 15. DATE CHANGE: It now shows Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 13-15, at 7:30 p.m. at CSPS. Tickets are $10; call 319.431.2110 or email

1 comment:

Cindy Williams said...

I just have to say that you are 100% correct in that Alex Williams is absolutely brilliant in his performance as Harry...and I say that without bias even though I'm his mom! But, how could you overlook the heart-wrenching despair and manic self-awareness of Hannah Spina as Rosannah? Talk about needing tissues! I was thoroughly engaged watching both of them heal themselves and each other as the play evolved. Shame on you for leaving her out!