Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

James Dunn’s Gripping New Production of R.C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End at RVP

 

Tom Hudgens, David Yen & Francis Serpa in Journey’s End at RVP.  Photo by Robin Jackson.

 Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Ross Valley Players presents the West Coast Premiere of the World War I drama Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff. Set in the trenches of war, the play gives us a look into the experiences of the officers of a British Army infantry company as they prepare for an enemy attack.  Set in a dugout at St. Quentin, France in 1918, toward the end of the war, the entire story plays out over four days—March 18, 1918 to March 21, 1918.

First of all the set (Ron Krempetz) was excellent. A window dead center was brilliantly lit by Ellen Brooks and really helps to set the scene, as day breaks, the sun streams down and at night, the candles and lamps glow in the darkness.  The attention to meticulous detail takes us straight back to the damp, inhospitable setting of the trenches.  We could see two bunks, a table with candles and several makeshift chairs.

The play begins as Captain Hardy (Steve Price) prepares to go on leave—new officers will replace him for the next six days.  Captain Stanhope (David Yen) has been at the front for three years, is mentally on the edge and is always drinking whiskey. He is joined by Lt. Osborne (Tom Hudgens), 2nd Lt. Raleigh (Francis Serpa), 2nd Lt. Trotter (Stephen Dietz), and 2nd Lt. Hibbert (Phillip Goleman).  Sean Gunnell (Private Mason) is the omnipresent cook that appears hour after hour.  Jeff Taylor has a wonderful cameo as the company sergeant major.  The men eat, smoke and drink all to excess since there is nothing else to do in between being on duty. There is tension, sadness and constant fear but stories and laughter too.

The performances from the nine strong ensemble are exceptionally good with brilliant performances from many. The sound design (Stephen Dietz) really set the tone of the play and rather than drown us with constant fire, gave us deafening bombardment to spectacular effect, when necessary, but mostly, just eerie silence and pops of distant shells.  The end of the journey is a sad one, but the story of the journey is highly recommended, due to Dunn’s magnificent staging and his sterling ensemble cast.  Everything about this production has been rendered with a sensitivity and craftsmanship that represents theatre at its finest.

Journey’s End runs January 16, 2014-February 16, 2014.  Regular Thursday performances are at 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All performances are held at the Barn Theatre, home of the Ross Valley Players, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross, CA.  For tickets, call 415-456-9555, extension 1 or go to www.rossvalleyplayers.com.

Coming up next at Ross Valley Players will be Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw and directed by Cris Cassell, March 14-April 13, 2014.

Flora Lynn Isaacson