David Galloway, Lauren Argo, Brooklyn Durs, & Jacob Cooper in Harbor. Photo courtesy Pandora Productions.
By Chad Beguelin
Directed by Michael J.Drury
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old chestnut, “you can’t choose the family that you are born into.” I can’t think of a more apt phrase as it pertains to the family that is a the heart of Chad Beguelin’s Harbor.
Mother Donna (Lauren Argo) and her daughter Lottie (Brooklyn Durs) are traveling to see Donna’s estranged brother Kevin (Jacob Cooper) and his new husband Ted (David Galloway) in the picturesque sea town of Sag Harbor.
During their time on the road Donna, a foul-mouthed, shoot-from-the-hip kind of woman with no filter, tries to reassure her sullen and angst-ridden teenage daughter that reconnecting with Kevin and Ted could be their chance to make a better life for themselves. While Lottie is doubtful, she goes along since she has little choice in the matter, as she and her mother live a transient life, living out of a van.
After arriving in Sag Harbor, Lottie realizes that her mother has not let Kevin and Ted know they are coming. A phone call is made from the local gas station and Kevin hesitantly agrees to the visit, against Ted’s acrobatic answer of no.
Kevin, a wanna be writer and Ted, a successful architect, live comfortably in the affluent seaside town and appear to have everything that they need, parties and travel and a seemingly idyllic marriage. This all changes when Donna and Lottie arrive.
As the family comes together and awkward pleasantries and memories are exchanged, a huge bombshell is laid by Donna. This news shakes everyone, especially Lottie, and convinces Kevin and Ted to allow Donna and Lottie to spend a few days.
Before you know it those days have turned months and patience and money are wearing thin around the homestead. Business is not going well for Ted and Kevin still has not written the book that a prospective editor has been expecting. Meanwhile, Lottie grows increasingly close to Ted and the stability that she has found within his home. Donna, over the course of her stay there, has devised a plan and is still working on Kevin to convince him that if he were to agree to her idea that things would be better for everyone.
Michael Drury strikes gold once again with his casting choices. David Galloway’s Ted is pragmatic, straightforward, and unapologetic about being a selfish person. Jacob Cooper nailed the turmoil of having brotherly and husbandly responsibilities and being torn between two loves. Having learned of his family history, one could certainly see how his inability to express his wants in constructive conversations would lead to his and Ted’s marital problems.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. I’ve been fortunate to see rising actress Brooklyn Durs in plays at the Commonwealth Theater Center and she is indeed working on crafting her art, but her Lottie was too shrill for my tastes. I feel that you can play a sullen, intelligent teenager with a less ear-pinching rise of the voice. But Ms. Durs certainly did exude confidence in being the adult of your mother/daughter dynamic.
It was sometimes hard to tell Lauren and her character Donna apart. Having known the actress for a while, it was fun to see a bit of herself on the stage in the role of Donna. Some of her quips and one-liners are social media worthy, even if they should be edited for younger audiences.
It was in Mr. Drury’s curtain speech that we learned that one of Louisville’s best set designers, Eric Allgeier, will be leaving the Pandora Productions family to go and focus more on his own family. To say that Mr. Allgeier’s talents will be missed is an understatement. What he is capable of creating with some 2x2s and a little bit of paint has been creative, imaginative and sometimes awe-inspiring. His set design for Harbor is exactly what I envision a house on the sea could look like
The whole of the production team was spot on with this production, especially Sound Designer Laura Ellis’ ability to find just the right sound to go along with a particular scene or movement. Jesse Alford’s lighting, especially the background light, was elegant and affirming.
So yes, we can’t choose the family that we are born into, we can choose the family that we become and in some respects Harbor acts as a cautionary tale that we take to heart: how we were raised is the foundation of who we can become, but, we have the free-will to change the pattern, if we choose. For the sake of the family in Harbor, their family ties are bound rather tightly and hard to detangle.
January 11 – 21, 2018
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
For tickets go to Pandoraproductions.org
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in 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 City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.