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The Way West – an Old West Pioneer Story of Survival at MTC

Two daughters Meesh (a feisty Rosie Hallett) and Manda (a sleek Kathryn Zdan) try to help their Central Valley mom (an energetic Anne Darragh), as she regales them with songs and tales of the optimism that won the West, in this West Coast premiere of Mona Mansour’s comic family drama at Marin Theatre Company.

Complementing this incredible cast of Bay Area actors – MTC veterans Anne Darragh, Stacy Ross, and Kathryn Zdan, as well as newcomers Rosie Hallett and Hugo E. Carbajal – are the musical compositions of the country by the amazing folk duo Misner + Smith who create catchy musical tunes.  All of the actresses accompany themselves on guitars. 

Mona Mansour’s cautionary tale about a true-believer in her notions of Old West pioneer values has a wonderful cast and a fine director (from the Minneapolis Playwright Center), Hayley Finn.  Haley Finn has a nice way of including lit-up cards for each of the different scenes to keep the audience on the same track.

One could say The Way West is a clash of Old West myths and modern financial reality.

Well-known Bay Area actress Stacy Ross has a clever cameo as Tress, mom’s wonderfully funny friend to join her magic water therapy business.  Hugo E. Carbajal appears as two different characters, first as Manda’s lawyer ex-boyfriend and a secondary role as a pizza delivery man, who is quite amazing.

Geoffrey M. Curley’s set, which is an open-arch living room, full of clutter, suggests a type of covered wagon.

While The Way West has true moments of poignancy and even a few laughs, it needs a more compelling plot and a flushed-out tone.  If we’ve learned anything from the gold rush and westward land-grabbing, it’s that that true pioneer spirit lives on, and with some work so will this play.


The Way West runs April 16 through May 10, 2015, with performances at:

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Wednesdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Thursday, April 30 at 1:00 pm
Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 pm

All performances take place at the Marin Theatre Company, located at 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley 94941.  To order tickets, telephone 415-388-5208 or go online at www.marintheatre.org.

Coming up next at the Marin Theatre Company will be Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Kent Gash, from June 4 through June 28, 2015.

Flora Lynn Isaacson