Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2016’

The Velocity of Autumn hits some speed bumps at TheatreWorks.

Alexandra (Susan Greenhill) and her son Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips) in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's Regional Premiere of The Velocity of Autumn, playing June 1 - 26 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Kevin Berne

Alexandra (Susan Greenhill) and her son
Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips) in
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s Regional Premiere of
The Velocity of Autumn, playing June 1 – 26
at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by Kevin Berne

The Velocity of Autumn by Eric Coble. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli.  TheatreWorks, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View.  (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.  June 1—June 26, 2016

The Velocity of Autumn hits some speed bumps at TheatreWorks. Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Eric Coble’s The Velocity of Autumn is the last play of a trilogy that he refers to as a triptych and calls “The Alexandra Plays.” It is making its West Coast Premiere at TheatreWorks. The main character is Alexandra and the author traces her life from her early 20s through her late 70s. This last play in that series will evoke the spirit of Dylan Thomas’:

 “Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;”

Where the poem was dedicated to his dying father, Coble explores the stage before death where his brain addled protagonist Alexandra has barricaded herself in her New York Brownstone home defying her children’s attempts to send her to a nursing home.  She certainly is not going quietly and she certainly does rave threatening to burn down her home with herself in it. She has booby-trapped the house with Molotov cocktails and there are bottles with rag wicks stuck into them in every corner and she holds tightly a cigarette lighter to start the conflagration.

Coble’s Alexandra (Susan Greenhill) is highly educated artist that allows him to create semi-intellectual dialog defending her position as he explores the effect of aging on the psyche. The other half of this two-hander is her oldest son Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips) who is a failed artist living in New Mexico supporting himself on dead-end jobs. He has been called in by the family to dissuade her from this drastic ending.

His entrance on the scene is through a second story window and he physically “drops in” on her and the confrontation begins. Coble has researched and lived through the problems of aging within his own family and veracity of his dialog is evident.  Within the generalized observation on aging he does create the personal background story defining the past lives of his characters even though there is more than a hint of exposition.

Seeing the play on a Saturday matinee with a majority of the audience being close to Alexandra’s age may have placed a pale on the performance and Bergson’s theory of relative time kicked in. Even though there was sporadic laughter the show seemed longer than its 90 minutes without intermission.

Susan Greenhill began on high pitch level and the modulation between her diatribes created only a modicum of empathy needed to give some truth to obviously telegraphed ending. She is to be commended for control of the stage. Mark Anderson Phillip is an icon in the Bay Area with an impressive award winning bio and gives plausibility to the character of Cris and as a sounding board for Alexandra.

The superb production values of TheatreWorks are again displayed with marvelous set, lighting, sound and sensitive direction by Giovanna Sardelli.

CAST: Susan Greenhill, Mark Anderson Phillips.

ARTISTIC STAFF: Scenic Design, Andrew Boyce; Costume Design, Jill Bowers; Lighting Design, Steven B. Mannshardt; Sound Design, Brendan Aanes.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworlim2.com.

Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips) argues with his stuborn mother
Alexandra (Susan Greenhill) in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s
Regional Premiere of The Velocity of Autumn, playing
June 1 – 26 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

Alexandra (Susan Greenhill) and her son
Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips) in
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s Regional Premiere of
The Velocity of Autumn
, playing June 1 – 26
at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.