My first time on stage was at the Allens Lane Theater. Almost forty years and over a hundred theater experiences later, I got to return and watch the quirky play QUAKE written by Melanie Marnich. QUAKE chronicles the travels of Lucy who quite abruptly engages in a quixotic journey to find the love of her life. Her search is not unlike that of many who seek the “one”; Lucy quickly sees the flaws in each “one” she encounters. The play introduces Lucy and the audience to a constant array of questionable choices. Lucy tries them on and rejects them each in turn. Lucy’s quest becomes intermingled with that of a scientist turned serial killer who quickly becomes Lucy’s obsession and foil.
This type of near absurdist play is very difficult, challenging both actors and director to make many choices. They must make each individual encounter both real and different from each of the others they portray. Director Sarah Mitteldorf and her company of actors mine much from a script that allows both a freedom and a latitude not always found in a playwright’s vision.
The cast of QUAKE works very hard to be true to the intention of the playwright. Jane Sorensen as Lucy captures the “everywoman” element of her character. She changes and responds to each candidate for the love of her life. Jeff Barg, Pratima Agrawal, and Khalil McMillan inhabit the varied characters that interact with Lucy on her journey. They capture the essence of each character although some are clearer than others. Sarah Labov handles well the philosophic physicist whose speeches aptly unites the worlds of science and philosophy. “Where does the energy go?” she repeats, emphasizing the energy that Lucy exerts in each of her encounters. Lapov makes the most of her moments to define her character, the object of Lucy’s obsession.
There are many moments that are both poignant and funny, but there are also moments that don’t work. Director Mitteldorf does a great job at keeping the play moving and pushing the actors to delineate his/her characters. My one criticism is in the choice of props and set pieces. I truly realize the limitations of both budget and space that is Allens Lane Theater, but if one is going to work environmentally, one should avoid having pieces that look like they were thrown together. Neat lettering doesn’t cost money. It unfortunately makes the prop an issue when it should merely serve the purpose of the play.
QUAKE continues on weekends until October 11th. You will be entertained and challenged to think.
by Melanie Marnich
Directed by Sarah Mitteldorf
September 26—October 11, 2014
Allen’s Lane Center for the Arts
Allen’s Lane & McCallum Streets
Philadelphia, Pa 19119
For tickets call 215-248-0546