Mia Seitz, Karl Seitz, Liz Fentress, & Jeremy Sapp in Gone Astray.
Photo courtesy of Bunbury.
By Walter May
Directed by Steve Woodring
Reviewed by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2016 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
As you enter the Henry Clay Theatre you see upon the stage a realistic floor plan of a house, filled with signs of comfort and affluence, complete with rooms and steps leading to an upstairs. Yes, there is affluence in this Eastern Kentucky house, home to the Claypool family, who made their money from roads: the building and construction of roads.
Enter paralegal Alison Lily (Mia Seitz), who is there to present Julia Claypool (Liz Fentress) a codicil on behalf of her son Charles (Karl Seitz), who is an attorney representing the Claypool estate. Julia, a housewife, questions the need for the change in the will and when she confronts her son, and husband George (Matt Orme) about it, they admit that it is to formally take another son, Albert out of the will.
Albert Claypool (Jeremy Sapp) was considered the black sheep of the family and was paid a good amount of money to leave the family alone. Seven years have passed and George and Charles felt that, for the good of the family, it was time to cut Albert out. It also happens that Charles has political aspirations and his eye on Alison (although George doesn’t trust her).
Just as Julia is about to resign herself that her son is indeed gone, he literally falls back into the house. Like the Biblical tale of “The Prodigal Son”, Albert has lost all that he was given and had nowhere else to turn, but to his family. Albert’s return turns the family on its ear and draws Alison into the troubled dynamic.
Walter May does an excellent job in keeping the audience involved and entertained through humor and sympathy, not just for Albert’s character, but the entire family, and kudos to the cast and director for realizing the nuances of the script and delivering them with panache.
Act II is a roller coaster ride of self-realization, lies, deceit, forgiveness, self-awareness and love. I won’t go into any detail, but the storyline is juicy and fun.
Mr. Orme and Ms. Fentress were delightful as George and Julia, a married couple together for a long time yet still learning things about each other years later. Mia Sietz’s Alison was smart and quirky, with a bit of naughtiness on the side. Jeremy Sapp’s Albert made you want to feel empathy one moment, force him into gear the next, then realizing that you have been cheering for him all along. The strongest performance of the evening was in Karl Seitz’s Charles. In the first act one feels that he is a competent attorney, maybe being manipulated by his father a bit, but within the second act, he really shows himself in vulnerability, all with a bit of humor mixed in, coming to terms with what and who he wants to be.
There was a great use of music (by Gareth Jones and Sydney King) and lighting (by Chuck Schmidt) that were reminiscent of the hills of Kentucky. Director Steve Woodring’s allowed an easy, naturalistic blocking that helped make it feel as if these characters were at home.
Despite some flubbed and over-lapping lines (that were quickly corrected), this is a solid piece of theater. So if you like a bit of comedy with shocking twists mixed in, come to Bunbury Theatre’s production of Gone Astray.
February 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, March, 2, 3, 4 & 5 at 7:30 pm
February 21, 28 & March 6 at 2:30 pm
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville, and is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.