Review – The Lightning Field, Oval House

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Of necessity, a very short review because Andrew is very tired. Last night’s gluing took it out of him rather.

Anyway, the salient points are that this was the best thing Andrew has seen at the Oval House.

Now while that may seem like damning with feint praise, The Lightning Field is actually not a bad little play. Indeed, in Oval House terms it is a masterpiece.

But what sets this apart from most of the dross there is the direction by Jared Michael Coseglia (which constrains the play’s excesses) and the terrific performances.

“Polished” was the word that sprung to his unusually sober lips as he thanked Agency Phil (the real Phil was nursing his hangover) for dragging him yet again to the Oval House.

The story plays thus:

With their two-year relationship on the rocks, Sam takes his much younger boyfriend, Andy, on a pilgrimage to The Lightning Field: an obscure art installation by Walter DeMaria in the New Mexico desert. Bringing with them Sam’s father Gerrit and Andy’s mother Lori, the play chronicles the disintegration of one relationship and the genesis of another with dialogue that crackles with authenticity.

… which is a fair summary apart from the “much younger” bit as from Andrew’s perspective the age difference seemed like a drop in the ocean.

Anyway, it’s packed full of imagery and imagination and to cap it all Rick Zahn’s watch fell off in one of the earlier scenes.

Predictably, Andrew was transfixed and cornered Mr Zahn in the bar afterwards to find out what the story of the watch was.

Apparently the watch had also broken the day before and Mr Zahn had taken it to be mended at a cost of £15 and, dammit, if it didn’t fall off the next night, too!

There followed some in-depth discussion about the best way to handle such an occurrence and all agreed that Mr Zahn had done the right thing by picking it up and putting it in his pocket rather than attempting to incorporate it into the “discourse” with some ad libbing.

There then followed a very touching story about how much Mr Zahn missed his recently rescued dog. With pictures!

There are 8 million stories in the Naked City and Mr Zahn’s was one of them. A businessman for most of his life, he switched to being an actor four years’ ago, starting with info-mercials and he certainly seems to be doing well in his new career.

Andrew was genuinely amazed to learn that the all-American cast had not been working together for years and years. This production feels like it has been honed over a very long period.

Top marks to everyone involved.

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