This was my first visit to Theatre West, and it happily coincided with this wonderful thirty year revival of Jim Beaver’s much celebrated Play “Verdigris”.
Written by Jim Beaver in 1985 and based on his own experiences as a young actor struggling through college, the story is set in small town Oklahoma in the early seventies.
A young actor, Richard, played with strength and subtle charm by Adam Conger, applies for a job offering free college tuition and room and board. When he arrives for the interview he meets Margret Fielding, his employer, played by the phenomenal Sheila Shaw with astonishing truth, a wheelchair bound entrepreneur who’s fierce determination to remain in control of her own life results in her constant desire to manipulate and control the lives of those around her.
Richard soon meets Margret’s other employees, brother and sister Ben Bo and May Bee Burley, Ben Bo is a sweet natured gentle giant and general helping hand to Margret, played by the wonderful Dylan Vigus. May Bee is a shy and humble constant companion to Margret and is played with such tenderness, grace and compassion by Corrine Shor I was spellbound and sobbing…in a good way. Jim Beaver plays Margarets drunken and regretful brother Jockey with the truth and dignity this character truly deserves…brilliant.
Richard also meets Margaret’s other employee Farly Kern, played with creepy abandon by Ian Lerch, her longtime friend and long forgotten suitor Carter Cobb, played expertly by the wonderful Cal Bartlett and Margaret’s son Carl, played brilliantly by David Goldstein and his lovely, loopy wife Bonnie, played so sweetly by the hilarious Chloe Rosenthal.
Richard’s girlfriend Linda, played beautifully by the delightful Katie Adler soon starts complaining that he spends too much time at Margarets house, leaving Richard feeling torn between his need to save everyone, particularly Margaret and his career as an actor. David Mingrino plays a terrible and all too perfect senatorial candidate after Margaret’s connections and influence, all too easily outwitted by her shenanigans.
The story is poignant and moving, funny and truthful. With heartfelt narration by Richard from time to time, it plays out like a memoire full of longing, love and a little regret.
I really have rarely seen such a beautiful story so perfectly captured on stage. The set was inspired, thank you, thank you Jeff G Rack. The costumes subtle and meaningful, Marjorie Vander Hoff, and the incredible original music composed and sung by Naomi Caryl put us perfectly in this time and place and held us there.
Mark W Travis, the director, gave us a gift. The staging and direction were so quiet and yet so passionate, I felt as if I were actually ‘in’ the play. An observer of these peoples stories, not just an audience member sitting in a row of other audience members.
There is magic happening at Theatre West with Verdigris, I cannot urge you enough to go and see this play, it is truly fantastic in every way it is possible for a play to be….
Verdigris is playing from March 13th - April 19th, Friday, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday’s at 2pm.
Tickets are $20 reservations at http://theatrewest.org
Adam Conger - Richard Muldoon
Sheila Shaw - Margaret Fielding
Corinne Shor - May Bee Burley
Jim Beaver - Jockey Farrell
David Goldstien - Carl Fielding
Dylan Vigus - Ben Bo Burley
Cal Bartlett - Carter Cobb
Chloe Rosenthal - Bonnie Fern Fielding
Ian Lerch - Farley Kern
Katie Adler - Linda Hoskins
David Mingrino - Bruce Bagnall
Mark W Travis - Director
Naomi Caryl - Composer/Singer
Jeff G Rack - Set Design
Yancey Dunhan - Lighting Design
Marjorie Vander Hoff - Costume Design
Roger Kent Cruz - Production Stage Manager
Earnest McDaniel - Assistant to the Producer/Props
Caroline Lindy - Assistant to the Director
Benjamin Scuglia - Assistant Stage Manager