Thursday, February 6, 2020

Apple Season Review

William Faulkner famously wrote: The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Those words ring true throughout theater Nova’s production of E.M. Lewis’ Apple Season. The central idea—a woman returns to the home where she grew up after the death of her father—is not original to this play but the fabulous direction by David Wolber on a heartbreakingly idyllic set (designed by Monica Spencer) make it fresh and interesting. Apple Season finds Lissie Fogerty (played by Alysia Kolascz) back in the orchard during the titular season, hours after the conclusion of the funeral for her father. As she picks the Northern Spies and the Mountain Roses, high school classmate Billy (played by Jeremy Kucharek) arrives, asking how she has been doing in the decades since she abruptly left town and ultimately inquiring about purchasing the orchard from her.

The action soon flashes back to the past, which finds Lissie and older brother Roger (played by Matthew Swift) as kids in the apple trees, hiding from shots being fired from a .22. It quickly becomes apparent that this tranquil apple orchard produced a horrific past for the Fogerty siblings.

The play swings back and forth between past and present, from a playful scene from outside the high school, to an emotionally wrenching conversation at a water tower, to the funeral that happened earlier that day. All three actors breathe brilliant life into what could have been cliché characters in the hands of lesser actors. Audience members feel the incredible grit tinged with vulnerability in Lissie, the warmth of the kindhearted, earnest Billy, and the pain of the selfless, stoic but hurting Roger. Ultimately, Lissie must decide how to reckon with a past that isn’t, as Faulkner said, past. Taking those steps with these characters is an emotional, beautiful, haunting journey that is hard to forget.

Apple Season runs through February 23 at Theater Nova.

Patti Smith is a teacher, writer and historian who lives in Ann Arbor.

No comments:

Post a Comment