Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
I would describe Wednesday's Child as a murder mystery with a twist. While most classics of the mystery genre exist in a hothouse atmosphere, far away from everyday people, this one has characters drawn from today's world and its backstory involves several timely issues. These include various methods of alternative reproduction (surrogacy and/or adoption) and abortion. The story grabs the audience right from the top. I think the issues could be brought forward a little more, and only three of the characters are well developedthe others remain more caricatures rather than interesting participants in the plot. In the first act the play seems like it would be headed for success on the regional circuit, but it doesn't sustain its focus all the way through.
There are two other issues for me. Nowhere does St. Germain offer the audience an explanation for the title, which I am guessing ties into "Monday's child is fair of face ... Wednesday's child is full of woe." Also, Becca's final speech, an attempt to give clarity to much of what has gone before, actually does just the opposite. I find it convoluted, impossible to follow.
Rachel Moulton is Susan Merrit, with Duke Lafoon as Susan's husband Martin. They are a childless couple. This is one of Ms. Moulton's most winning portrayals, warm and loving. Martin is an archeologist, is both intellectually stimulated and a caring husband/want to be father. Brooke Tyler Benson, giving her finest performance this year after varied roles at multiple local theaters, is Becca Connor, college student and surrogate for the Merrits' baby.
Right at the top of the play we learn that Becca is dead, a murder victim. David Smilow is Walt Dixon, and Alicia Taylor Tomasko is Aleece Valez, detective partners who investigate the death. Susann Fletcher plays Molly Strutt, former almost-hippie, now lawyer, and Heather Michele Lawler plays Dr. Sutton. These five all give solid competent performances, but they play the characters that are less vividly drawn.
Kate Alexander directs, keeping the plot clear when it would be possible for the audience to get lost. She is helped by a really nifty set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay that provides just a touch of menace, with platforms at various levels tucked into a bare, birch-filled area and an open playing area forward. Susan Angermann has designed the costumes, changes of outfits for all characters where called for. They look like these people might have just wandered in from downtown Sarasota or another urban area. Lighting by Thom Beaulieu creates the off-kilter atmosphere where called for and is an important piece in the success of this production.
Wednesday's Child is a good play, with flaws. I have been thinking about where I might specifically tighten it up and I don't have any easy answers. It is interesting that St. Germain tweaks the murder mystery genre with timely issues that give audiences something to think about, but the plot and the background issues are not well balanced.
Wednesday's Child, through May 24, 2019, at Florida Studio Theatre, Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, call the box office at 941-366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.
Cast (in alphabetical order):