Lately I’ve had a problem, with the limitations placed upon live theatre, by this pandemic. It seems that organizations which produce amateur and professional theatre are, and have been in extreme danger of financial ruin. Somehow, we must do everything we can to preserve this art form. I think that our local theatre Encore, is one of those, which must open, in some form, or it will disappear. To try to bring paying customers in, while providing for their safety must be the main focus. Along that line, Encore has adapted some essays from Mark Twain, into a medium-length play. The good thing about this one of them anyway, is that the cast is very small. Obviously, we need only two characters, to play Adam and to play Eve. Our director, Sarah Glover Crawford, has adapted this treasured literature into a play that could be presented in one short hour. In respect to patrons of this theater, only a small number of tickets are sold, and adequate social distancing is observed. My trip there tonight was one of complete confidence in my safety. I had chosen a seat in the Nosebleed section, which allowed me to be far from everyone else. I had no concerns. I’m betting no one else did, either.
Glover Crawford has come upon the idea of double-casting this show. This gives each set of actors a whole weekend of performances. It’s a trial to rehearse, as equal time must be set aside for each cast, so the pressure is squarely on the director. It appears she was successful in this instance. I saw the show, tonight, trying to leave any pre-conceived notions of the biblical story, as well as of Mr. Twain, at home. I just wanted to see how a master story-teller could make something fresh appear. I was not surprised, at how interesting, and compelling the story could be.
The stage was set with some boulders, which the two combatants used, to sit, and write in their diaries. These rocks were well constructed, and appropriate. The trees, surrounding our two heroes were a pleasant surprise. It was fun to learn that these set pieces had been loaned to Encore, by it’s neighboring theatre group, Van Wert Civic Theatre. When I was doing a majority of my theatre work at Encore, not much was known, or said, about our sister group. That is no longer the case. Props, scenery, directors, actors and even patrons are routinely shared. It’s a very nice relationship.
But, lets get back to our hour of Twain. I said to Ms. Glover Crawford, that Twain’s simplicity and down to earth humor is sometimes a bit much for my tolerance. But having said that, I have to acknowledge that this American Icon is truthful and straightforward. There is nothing hidden, or camouflaged about his stories. And tonight’s performance proved this. The audience was engaged throughout. As Adam, Nick Kellis showed the poise and depth needed to portray the first man as an annoyed resident of the garden. Adam is both frightened and put-out by Eve’s appearance in his sanctuary. He tries everything he can do, to absent himself from this “thing” that he feels “talks too much”. Eve, is in wonder at the many creatures, flowers, and other features of the land. She wants to name them all. Our Eve, played by C.J. Murphy hits just the right note. She’s shy, but perceptive. She’s interested in Adam, whom she sees as a project of sorts. She can’t understand why he shuns her. Murphy, I am told is a newcomer to theatre. For her to take on a part with so many long speeches, is a testament to her fortitude. I truly felt for her version of Eve. She lured me in. Kellis, on the other hand is a pro, having been raised by a no-monkey-business, show business mother. As I watched, I had the fleeting thought of Danielle Kellis, and how proud she would be. Even when Nick got into a slight glitch, word-wise, he smoothly got himself back on track. He was fun, crusty, and likeable as the First Man.
There is much humor in Twain’s story. I giggled a little. Chortled a bit. I had the feeling everyone else did, too. But the fact that everyone was wearing a mask, explains why, often, I wondered if any of them got the joke. I have to admit, I leaned forward in my seat. I was interested. I could see my fellow audience members were, too. And when the story was coming to a close, I found myself a bit verklempt. In a way, that feeling cheered me.
Okay, here’s the upshot. Tomorrow at 8, this one goes on again. I have it on good authority that tickets remain. I tell you this because I urge you to take a gander at the scenery, take a humorous look at a story you’ve known since childhood, and put a little green into the cash register, at Encore. If you’ve been there, before, you must love it as I do. If you haven’t been there, you need to. This building and its attendant organization are Ohio stalwarts. If you call 419-223-8866, someone with a helpful disposition will make sure your place is reserved. Do it, now!
Delightfully funny, touchingly beautiful, share in this timeless love story as only Mark Twain can tell it.
Encore Theatre, 991 North Shore Drive, Lima, Ohio
Friday February 26 @ 8 pm
Saturday February 27 @ 8 pm
Sunday February 28 @ 2 pm
Show Duration: 60 minutes (1 hour) with no intermission
Adults and Seniors $15.00
Students ( including College students with school ID) $10.00
All Patrons must wear face masks.
Seating is currently limited to 15% of capacity or 42 tickets per performance.
The theater is relying on volunteers only to fulfill ticket requests and will not be open during traditional box office hours. To make a ticket request, please call the box office at 419-223-8866 and leave a message including your name, phone number, production date you wish to attend, and the number of tickets needed. They will call you back!