Journal of the San Juan Islands


Family truth put to the test in 'Other Desert Cities' | Guest Column

December 3, 2013 · Updated 4:34 PM

A tender moment shared by Lyman Wyeth (Daniel Mayes) and daughter Brooke (Amanda Lee-Smith) in Island Stage Left's production of 'Other Desert Cities.' / Contributed photo/Claudia La Cava

By Gay Wilmerding/Special to the Journal

Recent theatre-goers enjoyed a delightful performance of island youth in Harvey, where the presence of a giant rabbit revealed human behavior.

Again at the Fairgrounds, Stage Left’s current performance of “Other Desert Cities“ reveals the driving force in family behind invisible members.

Gathered for Christmas in Palm Springs, a daughter mourns and memorializes passing of her brother Henry, her best friend, as parents suppress any memory or discussion of him. A younger brother tries to mediate conflict between generations, between appearance and reality, between public and private.

Divergent truths of each tear family apart as viewers identify with their dilemmas. Fear drives control. The mother sucks cigarettes and booze as she lambasts drug addicts. Irony and humor abound. In prickly caricature, a cactus is the only living thing on the set, her home.

The family argues: reconciling belief and resentment, becoming present and accepting past stories, all of them. Painful piecing and parsing of Henry, present only in memory, conclude in mercy and love.

The no-holds barred dialog underscores a conscious choice, not to do harm, and an eternal human desire to be safe and cherished, to trust.

Stage Left has again given a present to community. Happy Holidays.

— At Fairgrounds through Dec 15th: Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m.

Except: Wednesday, Nov. 27, no Thanksgiving Day performance, and a Dec. 7, 2 p.m. matinee.

Info, schedule: www.islandstageleft.org.


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