Friday, October 25, 2013

The Snow Geese @ Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

The 1900s come alive in Snow Geese, the world premier drama by Sharr White directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring Emmy and Tony award winner Mary Louise Parker.

Recently widowed, Emily Gaesling(Mary Louise Parker), had decided to throw her annual hunting party to honor her eldest son, Duncan(Evan Jonigkeit), on his deployment overseas and her late husband’s memory, despite the fact that his spendthrift ways have left the family buried in debt. She is determined to believe that they are just as well off as they always were, refusing to listen to her younger, more level headed son, Arnold(Brian Cross).

Mary Louise Parker is no stranger to the theatre and has been seen in such shows as Proof, How I Learned to Drive, Angels in America, and of course her award winning television show “Weeds”. Usually dynamic and volatile onstage, I found her performance to be somewhat stilted due to the mannerisms she had adopted for the role. The effect made her less personable and relatable to the audience eliminating any sympathetic feelings for her character.
Brian Cross made his confident Broadway debut as the younger Gaesling brother. His chemistry with his older brother made them a strong familial duo with Evan Jonigkeit proving to be a great example of a leading actor of our generation.  While Cross’s love story with the maid, Victorya(Jessica Love) a Central European refugee from a once prominent family, created empathy.

Worth mentioning, is Victoria Clark’s performance as the discreetly intervening sister, Clarissa, and her immigrant husband Max(Danny Burnstein), who despite being an American citizen for thirty years has been ostracized due to growing German hostility stemmed from the war. Heartwarming, engaging, and truly stunning are just a few words that come to mind to describe Clark and Burnstrein. Their story is heartbreaking and poignant.

Jonigkeit’s exuberance over “fixing” the problems overseas are sharply contrasted with Cross’s accounts of the rising casualties and Victorya’s personal accounts of hardship bringing to mind the harsh realities of war. The audience can’t help but draw a parallel between World War I and the modern day conflicts in the Middle East creating a drama worth talking about long after the curtain goes down.

The set designed by Tony award winner John Lee Beatty, was simply stunning. The set would rotate to create different dimensions throughout the play. I felt completely immersed into their world.  Japhy Weideman, the lighting designer, made the set come alive and set the mood perfectly.

Snow Geese is playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre and is only running through December 15th, so get your tickets now. 

Photos by: Joan Marcus
Review By: James Russo & Sarah Brown

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