'Up' showcases ensemble acting
Pure Theater opened its seventh season Friday night with Sharon Graci's polished production of "Up" by Los Angeles playwright Bridget Carpenter.
Carpenter's play centers on the Griffith family, a collection of those dreamers so celebrated in the works of Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee William and many other lesser known American playwrights.
Walter, the father, had his moment of truth, more than 15 years before the action begins, when he festooned a deck chair with helium balloons and floated high above the earth. Since then he has been searching for opportunities to have another 15 moments of fame, but he is lost in a haze of self-delusion.
R.W. Smith's Walter is a charming, likable fellow, even when he is talking to imaginary figures and hounding his enabling wife, Helen.
Cristy Landis as the wife bounces with energy from mail route to kitchen, masking her ill health and increasing despair.
Like Walter, she hides in the past and has imaginary companions, a whole family of them. Meanwhile, their confused adolescent son, Mikey, touchingly played by Jon Raz Van Pinxteren, just dreams of a job with a salary, and a relationship with Maria, played by Carly Sumner Ridgeway.
The teen dreams of the future glory of her unborn son. Tara Denton adds an exotic note as Maria's tarot-reading grifter aunt Chris, and Rodney Lee Rogers give reality to the French aerialist who exists in Walter's mind.
"Up" will continue at Upper Lance Hall on the grounds of Circular Congregational at 150 Meeting St. until Oct. 24.
"Up" is an entertaining showcase of ensemble acting. Granted, the location is a bit out of the way, but it is close to a parking garage, and your path to the auditorium goes through a very romantic graveyard.