Sunday, September 16, 2012

GOODBYE, RUBY TUESDAY • HotCity Theatre

This play was first introduced at HotCity's GreenHouse Festival, where new plays are workshopped and shown to the public.  Now, here we are, a few years later, and Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday is currently receiving its world premiere with strong direction, a spot-on cast and pitch perfect creative contributions.  The only thing it doesn't provide is easy answers.

Nobody in Lynn Hallaby's family can quite figure out what her deal is.  Lynn (Nicole Angeli) has come home to say goodbye to her family.  Seemingly out of nowhere, she's decided to hop on a Greyhound and head to Alaska to work on a commercial fishing boat, and the bus leaves in one hour.  Everyone in the family is desperately trying to get her to stay.  Her mom, Margie (Peggy Billo), even tries to hide her duffel bag under the sink.  Her father Hudson (Joe Hanrahan), offers to take her fishing, like they used to do when she was a kid -- to no avail.  Her brother Kelly (Charlie Barron), who thinks of Lynn as being "so drastic", insists that this just doesn't make any sense, and that she must stay.  Maybe only for his sake.  Kelly is gay, and has come out to everyone but his parents, and he and Lynn obviously have a close brother/sister relationship.  Lynn's husband Ray (Eric White), is also left angry, hurt and confused over her decision.  During an exchange with Lynn and Kelly, we learn that she unsuccessfully tried to "check-out" a decade earlier, but we never really learn why.  What we do learn is mostly revealed through the scenes with Lynn and her brother, and things escalate when Lynn's husband shows up.  Even Gary (Rusty Gunther), Kelly's boyfriend, tries to get under the surface of why Lynn has come to this decision, but like everyone else, he gets nowhere.  Kelly decides to come out minutes before Lynn has to leave, and here we see her take control of the situation, calm her parents, and emerge as the level-headed one, but she still holds her stance as needing to get away from her surroundings to save herself.

Nicole Angeli (Lynn Hallaby) and Peggy Billo (Margie Hallaby).
Photo credit: Todd Studios
This play unfolds in a leisurely pace that, under Bill Whitaker's careful direction, draws you in, but the script doesn't come with any real explanation of the emotional underpinnings of our main character, Lynn Hallaby.  There are hints about her past, but the reasons for her decision are cloaked in unanswered questions.  Not every play comes with a nicely tied bow at the end right?

Nicole Angeli's remarkable subtleties as Lynn make her the one you become the most invested in, as this unknowable character that everything ultimately hinges on.  She's funny and heartbreaking, but in the end, along with the relationship with her brother Kelly, whom Barron plays with a wide range of authentic emotions, keep their cards close to the vest.  Billo also turns in a fully present and sincere performance as Margie.  Watching her, along with Joe Hanrahan as her loving but out-of-touch husband Hudson, when other scenes are going on, is admittedly quite interesting.  Gunther makes for a sensitive Gary, Kelly's boyfriend, and Eric White turns up the heat when we are introduced to him in the second act.

Nicole Angeli (Lynn Hallaby) and Charlie Barron (Kelly Hallaby).
Photo credit: Todd Studios
Sean Savoie's comfortable, well-equipped scenic design makes you immediately feel like you're in the Hallaby house, and is complimented commendably by Michael Sullivan's lighting design, Jane Sullivan's costume design, and Zoe Sullivan's subtle sound design.

I would think that many of us have gone through a period where we feel like we're drowning, and know something -- anything has to be done, even though we may not have a clue what it is we need to do.  In that regard, maybe Lynn has a leg up on the rest of us.  Check it out.  It's playing until the 22nd.


Nicole Angeli (Lynn Hallaby), Eric White (Ray Arendt),
Rusty Gunther (Gary White), Charlie Barron (Kelly Hallaby),
Joe Hanrahan (Hudson Hallaby),  and Peggy Billo (Margie Hallaby).
Photo credit: Todd Studios
GOODBYE, RUBY TUESDAY

Written by EM Lewis
Directed by Bill Whitaker
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Blvd.
through September 22 | tickets: $20 - $25
Performances Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Cast:
Nicole Angeli (Lynn Hallaby), Charlie Barron (Kelly Hallaby), Peggy Billo* (Margie Hallaby), Joe Hanrahan (Hudson Hallaby), Rusty Gunther (Gary White) and Eric White (Ray Arendt).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Creative:
Scenic design by Sean Savoie; lighting design by Michael Sullivan; costume design by Jane Sullivan; sound design by Zoe Sullivan; stage manager, Mary Jane Probst.

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