Friday, February 3, 2012

Love, Loss, Truth and Transparency

STAGES Theatre
400 E. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA
Written By Tiina Mittler
Directed By Andrea Freeman
Through February 18
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

One of the biggest challenges of being a parent is making decisions on what to tell your child and what not to tell them.

A lot of us are inclined always to be transparent and honest with our kids. But what if there is something in our past lives that we did that could potentially be harmful in the development and the well being of our children? Then what do you do? Be cautious and not say anything? Or, be forthcoming?

That is the dilemma facing Maeghan (Cleta Cohen) in Playwright Tiina Mittler's first effort "Subterfuge". The play runs at Fullerton's STAGE's Theater until February 18.

Laurel (played wonderfully by Candice M. Clasby) returns to her Midwestern home after the death of her husband to try to sort out her life, grieve, and try to figure out what the next step will be when she stumbles across some old family secrets. The play centers around Laurel attempting to unravel the mysteries of her family's life with the help (or more aptly, the non-help) of her mother Maeghan, family friend Grace (Judy Jones) and Grace's daughter and Laurel's childhood friend Laci (Tanya Raisa Mironowski).

Wonderful and warm performances by the elder members of the cast, Cleta Cohen and Judy Jones and great Direction by Andrea Freeman.

The only criticism of this play is that it is too short. Clocking in under just 50 minutes, the play almost feels as if you are watching a Pilot episode of a Television series. That is not necessarily a bad thing but I really wanted to know more about these characters and what happens next in their lives. On the other hand, knowing how to "write tight" is a skill a lot of writers don't necessarily grasp. Tiina Mittler seems to understand the concept.

This is a great first effort by playwright Mittler, who is the Stage Manager at Brea's Curtis Theater. Subterfuge leaves you wanting to see more from this writer.

I also love the fascinating and busy set design by Fred Kinney. The story takes place in Maeghan and Grace's antique store in the Midwest which doubles as Maeghan's home. Having an antique and collectible business, I didn't go anywhere during intermission checking out all the collectibles and antiques on the stage. Shhh! The set is also used for American Buffalo which is also running now at Stages.

And speaking of American Buffalo, this is the opening of the 20th season at STAGES Theater in Fullerton and along with Subterfuge , these two shows really define what STAGES is. On one hand you have the new, fresh and original Subterfuge and on the other hand you have the troupe doing an established and seminal work by David Mamet.

If Subterfuge is any indication, this is going to be an exciting year for live Theater in town.

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