Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
April 29, 2011
Okay, so let’s say you don’t like surprises. And spending your honeymoon in a treehouse , in the middle of a thunderstorm, isn’t your romantic fantasy. But as frightened and uncertain and disappointed as you may be, there’s your hunky new husband, trying his damnedest to make things amorous and easy for you. Still, all you do is whine and complain. You wanted something different. A full-scale wedding, for one. Guests. A cake. An overnight stay in a seaside motel. But that wasn’t how it went down. And it seems like this marriage is getting off to a mighty rocky start.
That’s the setup of first-time playwright Scott Hudson’s “Sweet Storm,” having its West coast premiere at New Village Arts. In 70 short minutes, the storm clouds get darker, literally and figuratively, as Bo tries to nuzzle closer and Ruthie keeps him at bay. She’ll barely let him kiss her, but she does let him pray. He is, after all, a preacher-man, and the son of a preacher-man. But she’s lost her faith, in the aftermath of the unnamed tragedy that left her unable to walk. The time – 1960 – and repeated references to FDR, suggest that her affliction is polio.
Bo, who’s loved her since he first kissed her, in this very oak tree, when they climbed it together in high school, is willing to do whatever it takes – carry her up to the treehouse , get her on and off the bedpan, festoon the place with the gardenias she loves – though she almost gets sick from the smell.
Gradually, with his loving-care, kindness and endless patience, she begins to soften, to take the first hesitant steps toward trust. The big storm comes, but it seems they’ll weather it together.
It’s short and sweet, but except for outside, there isn’t enough ‘storm’ to make a drama. This is a slice of life, a showcase for two actors. At the end, though, there’s no payoff, no button, not enough bang for the buck.
Still, under the guidance of first-time director Daren Scott, like the novice playwright, an accomplished actor by trade, Adam Brick and Kelly Iversen make us care, root for them, hope that they’ll make it through all these awkward, first-night moments. Tim Wallace has created a leafy, wood-hewn aerie for the newlyweds, underscored by the tin-roof patter of a summer Florida rainstorm.
The play doesn’t feel satisfying at the end, but the performances are heart-rending, Brick a poster-child for unrelenting optimism and unconditional love, Iversen fretting and resisting, visibly pained as she moves her pale legs around like inert objects, finally putting on a little lipstick, and a flower in her hair, readying herself, at last, for her man.
“Sweet Storm” runs through May 15, at New Village Arts in Carlsbad .
©2011 PAT LAUNER