With Indian Summer, playwright Gregory S. Moss sets out to capture that fleeting moment of youth on the cusp of adulthood. The moment that feels impossibly real while it is happening and impossibly dreamlike in retrospect. It often succeeds. Indian Summer plays with time and memory like the sand dunes where the play is set - both real and permanent, but constantly shifting.
Owen Campbell portrays Daniel, a young man of 16 or so, left at his grandfather’s house on the Rhode Island beach in the summer for an indeterminate length of time by a flaky mother. Daniel, friendless and annoyed, takes to the beach to sulk, escape his grandfather and feel sorry for himself in that desperate way only the young can. But the beach throws up the detritus of life: his grandfather, marking time after the passage of his wife, a townie stuck in the rules of masculine preening and Izzy, the local girl that challenges and entrances him.
|Elise Kibler and Owen Campbell in Indian Summer|
Elise Kibler gives life to Izzy. A native Rhode Islander with an Italian working class heritage that is perplexed by the skinny pale “summer people” with an attitude that is Daniel. Together they talk gently and long about life and their future and their dreams. Theirs is that first great summer infatuation filled with possibility, not only of the person you meet, but also of being bigger and more than you are right now. These two actors grow into that moment organically and honestly. One of the most touching moments is as they sit, back to back, role playing a distance future in which they meet with their respective partners.
Joe Tippett brings a sense of playfulness and sweetness to Izzy’s lug headed boyfriend Jeremy. He is the perfect counterpoint to Daniel and Izzy’s relationship and a rebuke to the easy path many writer’s take where the current boyfriend is, for some reason, horrible. Jeremy knows how good he has it, and the role he has to play here. The audience gets the sense Jeremy (the character) has played this scene before and knows the ending. Jeremy is trying to save his own future.
The final role is George, Daniel’s (step) grandfather. Jonathan Hadary does a good job with a tough role. As the wandering narrator, he is wonderful. As the self-absorbed widower, well that is a difficult role to pull off honestly.
Indian Summer does some things so fantastically, that it is regrettable that other things just don’t work. George and Izzy’s sudden role-playing seems whipped up to offer a bookend to the show, not because it is organically driven. Izzy is best and most enthralling when she is the tough local teenager that slowly opens up to Daniel because he is so alien. He is non-threatening and her guard lowers a bit at a time in a believable and touching way.
Director Carolyn Cantor handles these moments of quiet brilliantly. Daniel and Izzy are like too different species to each other, fascinating, beautiful and fragile. Watching Indian Summer is like watching tide pool, everything in that moment is so perfect, but will be washed away at high tide and redone countless times.
Indian Summer | Playwright: Gregory S. Moss | Director: Carloyn Cantor | Cast: Owen Campbell, Elise Kibler, Jonathan Hadary, Joe Tippett | website