Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lemon Sky

"Lemon Sky" presented by the Keen Company at the Theatre Row, September 24, 2011

(photo by Richard Termine)

My experience with the Keen Company has usually been very good - solid productions and strong scripts.  This production is a tribute to the late Lanford Wilson in this autobiographical play.  This is the first time they have missed the mark for me.

17 year old Alan (Keith Nobbs) has traveled west to live with Douglas (Kevin Kilner) his estranged father who has remarried and has two sons by his second wife Ronnie (Kellie Overbey).  Douglas is eager to make up for lost time, and Alan is at first receptive, but as time passes,  Doug's old habits resurface.  Complicating the matter are the two foster daughters, Penny (Amie Tedesco) and Carol (Alyssa May Gold), who bring in needed cash to the household budget with their monthly state allocation.

Director Jonathan Silverstein has some strong actors among the uneven cast, but doesn't maximize their strengths.  Mr. Nobbs, last seen in a similar part as narrator/character in Broadway's Lombardi admirably carries much of the load, sharing lots of exposition in direct-address monologues, then quickly stepping into a scene as a confused high school graduate in the early 70s trying to figure out what his life will be. Ms. Overbey also steps up to an underwritten role.

Scenic designer Bill Clark makes excellent use of space for the California suburban ranch house setting, complemented by Josh Bradford's unobtrusive lighting.

Mr. Wilson has many other better-remembered titles in his canon.  Other than the autobiographical nature of this play, it's unclear what drew Keen Company to select it.

I'm hopeful for better results with their next production.

Lemon Sky runs through October 22.

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