Up, Down, Strange, Charmed, Beauty, and Truth
nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
August 11, 2007
There isn't a moment or a line wasted in Edward Allan Baker's 45-minute, one-act play, Up, Down, Strange, Charmed, Beauty, and Truth. From the beginning, intensity drives the characters to act as they do until they have no choice but to leave...or stay, depending on the character. They are all trying to build lives based on some basic dreams. They are all looking for love but must first break a cycle of violence.
The drama begins with Marley's need to ace a physics exam as good-natured Uncle Danny quizzes her on chaos theory and the definition of quark while at the same time poking fun at her seriousness. She is a smart, prescient 16-year old who knows that good grades lead to college scholarships, her only ticket out of the working class projects in East Providence, Rhode Island. Her mother, a looming ne'er-do-well who never makes an appearance on stage, is motive enough for escape. Still, she loves her older sister and her uncle, whose wife and daughter inexplicably left him several years earlier. Once Steph, Marley's sister, makes her entrance, it becomes clear that all is not right in this house. She is battered and bruised, and embarrassed beyond measure; but, it is the unraveling of her story that magnifies the cycle of violence and betrayal. It is the type of story that threatens to be trite in the hands of mediocre actors. But this cast is stellar.
Linnea Wilson combines the naiveté of an adolescent girl with an intensity of one who knows what she wants. Her Marley is young, almost sweet, and full of surprises. Megan Hart lends Steph the air of a wounded animal that has enough fight left to survive. And, Greg Drozdek delivers a three-dimensional Uncle Danny that keeps this drama from becoming a stereotype. Kudos to Diana Basmajian for her fine direction. Except for some inconsistency on the Rhode Island accents, Up, Down is well-paced, its characters credible, and their relationships complex. This well-conceived play is presented by casa 204 productions.