Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As Wide As I Can See: It is Wonderful!

As Wide As I Can See @ Here Arts Center
As Wide As I Can See, at the Here Arts Center, is one of those rare shows that force one to move from a critic to an evangelist. Go see it right now; it will not disappoint.
As Wide As I Can See takes place entirely in an Ohio backyard.  Set in suburban Youngstown, the town has been hit by the recession and is slowly contracting; involuntarily downsizing the hopes and aspirations of its citizens.  In a nice little yard, Dean, an out-of-work journalist, is preparing a bar-b-que with his buddy, Tyler.  Tyler is an old high-school friend, now living with his young family in a trailer parked out back.
The bar-b-que is to introduce Dean’s girlfriend, Jessica - who owns the house, to Dean’s friends.  Despite their obvious affection, Jessica and Dean’s relationship is strained by Dean’s recent unemployment and the continuing occupation of the yard by Tyler and his brood.  But for this one evening, everyone is trying hard to get along.
Cast of As Wide As I Can See at Here Arts Center
Conan McCarty, Melisa Breiner-Sanders, Ryan Barry, Julie Leedes, Joshua Levine & Kay Capasso
A wildcard gets thrown into the mix when Jessica invites an old acquaintance, Charlotte, to the party.  Charlotte brings up memories that neither Tyler nor Dean want to revisit.
The beauty of As Wide As I Can See, is that this set-up feels natural.  Writer Mark Snyder brings a realistic voice to these characters, a voice that never feels forced or un-natural.  Dean, an excellent Ryan Barry, is a little lost and bitter, but obviously in love and a very likeable character.  As the more uptight Jessica, Julie Leedes, brings a warmth and insecurity that helps explain Jessica’s desire for order.  Their affection is believable, walking the tightrope between reminding versus nagging while still being supportive.  Ryan Berry’s Dean is confronting the little and big questions of life. And the introduction of Charlotte intensifies the questions.
Julie Leedes and Ryan Barry
As Tyler and Nan, the couple in the trailer our back, Joshua Levine and Kay Capasso are wonderful.  They question life less and enjoy it more than the complex couple in the house.  Tyler and Nan enjoy the simple pleasures of life, but without ever being “simple”.  The final couple is Charlotte and Walt, played Melisa Breiner-Sanders and Conan McCarty.  Both of these actors do a great job of bringing difficult characters to life.  Conan McCarty,in particular, layers his performance as the supportive Walt.
Director Dan Horrigan does a great job with a wonderful script.  He has given the characters the time and space to grow over the course of the show.  There is a point, late in the show, when Jessica is sitting on the stoop, smoking.  The slouch of Ms. Leedes’ carriage, the simple act of smoking – not over-the-top puffing and exhaling, coupled with the time Mr. Horrigan allows for the scene to linger, give rise to a sense of fragility bordering on exhaustion. And it is gone the second someone else enters the scene, as Jessica wouldn’t allow herself to be seen in a moment of self-pity.  It is simple touches like that which makes As Wide As I Can See such a fantastic piece of theater.
As Wide As I Can See at Here Arts Center
Playwright: Mark Snyder
Director: Dan Horrigan
Cast: Ryan Barry, Melisa Breiner-Sanders, Kay Capasso, Julie Leedes, Joshua Levine, Conan McCarty
Runs Through: March 10th

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