Vienna Theatre Company Taking LeaveBy Laura & Mike Clark • Oct 25th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Vienna Theatre Company’s production of Taking Leave [MP3 6:15 2.9MB].
Mike: This was a serious show raising lots of issues and situations that probably you or someone you know is probably going to have to deal with.
Laura: Yes, in a way it was a sad show. It was well acted. The pace was good. The set, the lights, everything was well done. It was just the topic that is sad. Alzheimer’s disease steals a person’s mind.
Mike: Taking Leave is a play by Nagle Jackson. In the middle of the night, Eliot Pryne, professor of English Literature, is packing what he thinks is a suitcase and leaving what he thinks is a hotel. Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, he is “taking leave” of the real world and imagining a new one, but the transition is painful. His alter-ego, seen only by the audience, charts this final voyage speaking as Eliot once did when he was the leading authority on Shakespeare’s King Lear. The visitation of Eliot’s three daughters, Alma, Liz and Cordelia, forms the central event of this oddly comic, yet fully sympathetic play.
Laura: Taking Leave had an interesting premise in the form of two “Eliots.” The first “Eliot” that came out was able to communicate with us as the narrator and kind of show and show us the Alzheimer’s progression from a third party view. It was really interesting . Eliot was the person having the Alzheimer’s and having the memory loss and things like that.
Mike: Eliot the Narrator was played by Rick Kenney. He kept the show focused. He sat on stage off to the one side. He absorbed the show with us. He did interact with himself a little later in the show. It was very effective. Eliot on Stage, dealing with the Alzheimer’s, was played by Ken Clayton. He did a very good job. He had lots of scenes with his daughters and the nurse where he would just have to switch topics with what was happening very quickly. That has got to be hard to do. I especially liked the tenderness he showed towards his daughter Cordelia. Some of the scenes with her were very effective. I liked his attention that he was showing as well as I liked how he really cared for her even though he got a little bit confused about who she was he he still loved her and that was very evident.
Laura: Mrs. Fleming was the care taker who was hired to look after Eliot, to make sure he took his medications and stayed inside the house as much as possible. She was played by Lori Muhlstein. She did a good job. She was funny. She did get a little exasperated with Eliot even though she knew he was suffering with Alzheimer’s. She still got tired and still wanted to be able to go out and do things every once in awhile. She got a little frustrated with he three sisters because they were not as accommodating as she would like.
Mike: Eliot’s daughters: Alma, Liz, and Cordelia were very different from each other. It was kind of hard to see how they came from Eliot. Alma was played by Leta Hall, Liz was played by Ann Colly, and Cordelia was played by Cassie Lee. I liked that they each gave their own little personality to their character. It just really worked all three of them.
Leta Hall did mention on her blog a couple days ago that she was paid the compliment that when she is on stage as Alma that she looks frumpy. That’s really the perfect word for describing the character of Alma. I really liked that. She seemed to be in control, she did a few things in the show that when I talked with Leta after the show, I was saying that some of the things she did really surprised me. You have to go see the show to see what I’m talking about.
Liz was a tv star. She actually seemed to show a lot of concern for her father. I liked how she didn’t play the tv star role as real flighty. She seemed to be a real down to earth person. Even though at times she was kind of flighty and didn’t realize that these great parts that she was getting weren’t the best of parts and the best of shows.
Cordelia was just a real strange woman. I think she did the part really well. Especially at the end she did things that you just weren’t expecting. I really liked the casting decision that the show’s director Lorraine Magee made. I think all the performers did a really good job, especially with the difficult topic of aging parents and Alzheimer’s.
Laura: The set for Taking Leave was very good. It was detailed. It took place in the family room of Eliot’s house. You had stairs going up to the upstairs bedrooms as well as a doorway leading into the kitchen and a doorway into a back bedroom. The Set Designer was John Vasko.
Mike: I liked the lighting design. The Lighting Designer was Suzanne Maloney. I liked how the lights were used to set the mood and for emphasizing different time periods in the family’s life. Like the flashbacks that Eliot would have when he was talking with himself.
Laura: Taking Leave was a good show. It was about two hours and five minutes with one intermission. After the Sunday matinee show on the 28th at 2 pm,
Mike: They are having a guest speaker, Dr. Jeanne Sorrell, a professor of Nursing at George Mason University. She is an Alzheimer’s Care Specialist. She also helped the cast with the show. I think it will be a very interesting discussion.
Laura: They are not taping the discussion so if you want to hear what she has to say, you will need to go see the show on Sunday.
Mike: The show is running through Saturday November 3 at the Vienna Community Center. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sunday the 28th at 2.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
- Eliot 1: Rick Kenney
- Eliot: Ken Clayton
- Mrs. Fleming: Lori Muhlstein
- Alma: Leta Hall
- Liz: Ann Colly
- Cordelia: Cassie Lee
- Producer: Bill Mullins
- Director: Lorraine Magee
- Stage Manager: Angie Anderson
- Assistant Stage Manager: Christopher Smith
- Set Design and Construction: John Vasko
- Building Crew: Bill Mullins, Chad Murray, Tony Murray, Ken Perkowski, Rose DeClerq, Adrian Steele, and Suzanne Maloney
- Set Painting: Suzanne Maloney
- Painting Assistants: Mike Sherman, Angie Anderson, Rose DeClerq, and Dawn Stewart
- Props and Set Dressing: Nanette Reynolds
- Costume Design: Patricia Tinder
- Hair and Makeup: Kendel Taylor, assisted by Leta Hall
- Lighting Design: Suzanne Maloney
- Lighting Assistants: Michael O’Connor, Kylie Todd
- Light Board Operator: Rob Wimbish
- Sound Design: Stan Harris
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2067.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.