The Resting Place is powerful and disquieting at the Magic

James Carpenter, Emilie Talbot, Emily Radosevich, Martha Brigham. All photos by Jennifer Reiley

The Resting Place: Drama by Ashlin Halfnight. Directed by Jessica Holt. Magic Theater @ Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA. (415) 441-8822 or  October 10-November 4, 2018. World Premiere.

The Resting Place is powerful and disquieting at the Magic Rating: ★★★★☆

Magic Theatre is well known for its dedication to new plays and playwrights. To open their 2018-2019 season they are again producing a world premiere. Artistic Director Loretta Greco credits the magic Theater with being “provocative and prolific.” The author, Ashlin Halfnight fits those criteria being extremely prolific and his play The Resting Place is markedly provocative.  Halfnight is successful in theater, television and film.

In The Resting Place he does not cover new ground but his insight into personal loss during times of crisis is incisive and harrowing. He has shrewdly constructed the play as a mystery feeding the audience bits of information to stimulate interest allowing conjecture of the actual facts and outcome.  

The major character in the play is dead and it is time to arrange sending him to his final resting place. He has committed a crime so heinous that it involved police intervention, national news coverage and personal jeopardy of his family. The body has been released from police custody and decisions must be made for final disposition.

Oldest sister Annie (Martha Brigham) arrives and starts to make decisions that are impossible or problematic. She rebels when the family refers to “him” as “your brother.” She snaps, “He has a name. His name is Travis.”  Yes, but that name rarely appears again.

The Jackson family consists of father Mitch (James Carpenter), Mother Angela (Emilie Talbot) younger sister Macy (Emily Radosevich) and Annie. Travis’ homosexuality has been known and he had a partner Liam (Wiley Naman Strasser) who adds a layer of understanding to Travis’ personae.

There many clever twist written in the play. One that stands out is an early mention of Annie’s young son always asking “Why?” “Why” is an overwhelming factor in trying to understand Travis’s motivations and attempting to explain the animosity against the family from former friends, the neighborhood and even the Catholic Church that refuse to bury “him” in hallowed ground.

Family conflict rides a rollercoaster with Annie being the most aggressive, Macy the most level headed, Angela the most withdrawn has converted a “six drink day” to seven and Mitch feeling guilt is the closest to knowing the “Why.”

Martha Brigham takes the ‘charge attitude’ as Annie to new heights thus giving her final scene a two handkerchief moment. Emilie Talbot’s Angela beautifully blossoms from her early ‘seven drink day’ to a calming influence on the family especially during times of verbal confrontation. James Carpenter’s gives his usual award winning performance with facial and body motions externalizing his inner turmoil between his explosive dialog.

Jessica Holt’s direction is perfectly in tune with each change in the emotional roller coaster ride that is playing on Magic’s three-sided stage. However even though The Resting Place is a solid should see performance it still has the feel of a play in transition that gives the audience ample opportunity to solve the mystery of Travis’ death and make decisions about a personal final resting place.

CAST: James Carpenter as “Mitch”;  Emilie Talbot as “Angela”;  Emily Radosevich as “Macy”; Martha Brigham as “Annie”; Wiley Naman Strasser as “Liam”; Andrew LeBuhn as “Charles.” 

CREATIVE TEAM: Director Ms. Jessica Holt; Edward T. Morris (Scenic Design); Sara Huddleston (Sound Design); Shelby-Lio Feeney (Costume Design); Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Design). 

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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