Mother in Carlsbad abandons daughter
Bt Pat Launer
Three doggedly impassioned people in one family may be two too many. A couple of deeply committed artists and a fervent mountain-climber do not create a recipe for calm, contentment or cozy togetherness.
While the dad is frequently off scaling ever-higher peaks, he maintains a close relationship with his young photographer daughter. But in order for the mother to get inspired to sculpt, she has to be roving the globe, “hunting for the light.” And so she puts her art first and abandons her daughter – for six years. And then, disaster strikes. When the father is killed in an Everest climbing accident, mother and daughter are forced to confront each other, live together, attempt to make amends. It isn’t a pretty or comfortable or comforting sight.
Jamie Pachino’s provocative 2005 play, “Waving Goodbye,” wrestles with issues of art, loss, grief, anger and reconciliation. And in the face of all this, allowing yourself to be loved. The L.A.-based playwright was present at the New Village Arts opening. She admitted that the play, written when she was pregnant, was partly motivated by her own concerns about balancing a child and a creative career. She didn’t make the same soul-crushing choice as the mother in the play. In fact, she went on to have a second child – and a successful professional life as a screenwriter and award-winning playwright.
But in the ramshackle Blue family home in New York City (water comes splashing down in Tim Wallace’s splendid, bi-level set), success is a relative thing, and resentment runs high. Seventeen year-old Lily cannot come to terms with the loss of her father – or the reappearance of her mother. Fortunately, her young neighbor, “Boggy,” who also knows something about parental abandonment, is there to help her, hold her, and provide her with a first taste of love. Lily’s tough-but-tender, wine-swilling, gallery-owning godmother is there for support, too. Only her mother has a hard time connecting to Lily, or buoying her, or seeing beyond her own narcissistic needs.
The play features beautifully poetic language, stunning imagery and gut-wrenching interactions. Under the taut direction of Dana Case , a marvelous cast mines the dramatic emotion without succumbing to melodrama.
Rachael VanWormer brilliantly captures all the agony and angst of a gifted adolescent who’s been deserted – one way or another – by both her parents. Gradually, over the course of the play, Lily learns to trust her self, her art and another person. As her parents, Jeffrey Jones is a wonderfully centered, charismatic presence; and Kristianne Kurner reveals both the ecstasy of young ardor and the hard-edged frustration of a seasoned artist who has made her choices and has to live with them. Her fraught dealings with Lily are painful to watch. But by far the most heartrending scene is the phonecall of father to daughter, from the bottom of a crevasse from which he cannot be rescued.
Kyle Lucy and Amanda Morrow are perfect as the love interest and the surrogate mom. The costumes (Kate Stallons), lighting (Christopher Loren Renda) and sound (Tim Wallace – all that rain!) add considerable dimensionality. It’s a strong piece and a potent production.
“Waving Goodbye” runs through February 6 at New Village Arts.
Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm; Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 2pm.
Tickets ($25-40) are available at 760-433-3245 or newvillagearts.org