Elden Street Players FrozenBy Mark Lee Adams • Feb 8th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Elden Street Players
Industrial Strength Theater, Herndon, VA
Through February 19th
2:00 with intermission
$19/$16 Seniors and Students
Reviewed February 4th, 2011
Nestled in a Herndon industrial park you will find The Elden Street Players. The theatre is a small black-box theatre with studio seating. The seating is great for the audience, no matter where they are seated, to have a great view of the entire set and show. Elden Street, despite its size, has put on very big shows as well as smaller, quainter productions. Frozen is a show more akin to the latter, but it’s a huge show in terms of making us think and question the human condition.
As you enter the small yet warm and friendly lobby of the theatre, you know right away of the limits of its size, and it’s there that you begin the journey of this night’s performance. You can’t wait to get into the theatre as the House Manager opens the curtains to the theatre seating. Once you’re seated you’ll see the multi-level platforms all in dark cave like colors teasing you with a feeling of an ominous cold atmosphere. A podium at center stage waits its moment of proclamation and the show’s title is illuminated on the back wall. You may feel a cold breeze wafting through the entrance to the theatre adding to the firestorm of emotions you will soon be witness to. I truly love the idea of evoking as many of the senses as possible in a theatre experience. Whether by design or the circumstance of the season, Elden Street strikes a glorious chord with this production.
Director Carla Scopeletis has cast a powerhouse set of actors for her play. Cassandra Hodziewich, in the role of Agnetha, Rebecca Lenehan as Nancy Shirley and Adam Downs as Ralph. The play unfolds as a counterpoint of three voices. Agnetha (Ms. Hodziewich) is an American in London to research her thesis, titled ”Serial Killing: A Forgivable Act?” Nancy (Ms. Lenehan) is the mother of Rhona, a 10-year-old girl who disappears on her way to her grandmother’s house nearby in a British suburb. Ralph (Mr. Downs) is a tattooed drifter who becomes a dominant figure in both women’s lives.
You are taken from an apartment in NY to the English countryside, prison and university lecture hall. To prevent you from getting lost, each scene local is displayed on the back wall as the actors take place on the platform level of the current scene. (A very nice touch and a necessary one for the audience).
The acting in this production is superb. Each has an extensive resume and it shows in their performances. Rebecca Lenehan in the role of Nancy Shirley has the foreboding task of taking an emotional journey of a womans grief of losing a child. A brilliant, tear jerking performance awaits you. Ms. Lenehan has exemplified the mother we all know. Warm and loving with that sense of unconditional love we all know and expect in such a role. Her ability to take us through the wrenching pain of the human condition of losing a child to murder brought tears to my eyes. She will grab you upon her first entrance to curtain. Excellent portrayal Ms. Lenehan!
In the role of Agnetha is Cassandra Hodziewich. Cassandra attacks her role with the resolve of a character with an emotional outcry at the start to a firm and stoic hand of a researcher to an inevitable human soul of a love lost with her own demons to fight. I felt her character’s defensiveness could’ve been bolstered by a stronger control as she dove into the role as a researcher. She had some very nice moments with both Ms. Lenehan and Mr. Downs. A wonderful job.
Playing Ralph is Adam Downs. Adam commands his character like a seasoned professional would. He captures you from the beginning of the play and enthralls you with his complete and total mastery of his character. To answer the woman sitting behind me in the audience who, at intermission asked, “Is he acting or is he always like that?” I say, “Really? I mean REALLY?” Mr. Downs is truly amazing with his portrayal here. He has turned in a performance you will not likely see the likes of in a long time.
Director Carla Scopeletis does a wonderful job at creating each scene with the right mood and tenor. Set Design by Al Fetske, Lighting Design by Chris Hardy, Projection Design by Les Zidel, Vocal coach by Jane Waldrop.
Frozen is truly a wonderful show to see.
Several years ago I saw an excellent production of Frozen at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. during the performance (the play garnered a Helen Hayes award for Best Actor that season), I experienced a wide range of conflicting thoughts and emotions: I recall feeling sadness and, at other times, anger; I was forced again to confront the age-old conundrum of why bad things happen to good people; I questioned whether real people could be both heroes and villains at the same time; and I marveled anew at man’s ability to rationalize and even glory in his own or other’s violent acts. The opportunity to direct Frozen brought all of these back to me in an instant. I had to answer the question: Did I truly want to direct such a play, a contemporary play addressing both an unspeakable crime and a grave societal taboo? For me, the answer was “yes.” I recalled the words of Arthur Miller –some years back I had directed his beautiful and compelling play All My Sons-who wrote that a moral world is such “…because men cannot walk away from certain of their deeds.” I feel that Frozen explores just such a morality, linking together three individuals who are neither larger-than-life nor villains. And it spotlights the power of memory and love to heal, as well as the need for forgiveness in this sometimes dark world in which we live.
- Nancy Shirley: Rebecca Lenhart
- Agnetha: Cassandra Hodziewich
- Ralph: Adam Downs
- Producer: Jeff Boatright
- Director: Carla Scopeletis
- Assistant Producer: Les Zidel
- Co-Stage Managers: Jamie Blake, Laura Moody
- Assisted by: Trey Ransbotham
- Set Designer: Al Fetske
- Master Carpenter: Marty Sullivan
- Set Construction: Skip Gresko, Bill Behan, Theresa Bender, Jeff Boatright, Jay Vasko, Mike Schlabach, Evan Hoffman, Michael Clendenin, Amy Skiavo, Richard Durkin, Marty Sullivan
- Set Painting: Les Zidel
- Painting Assisted by: Mike Cantwell
- Vocal Coach: Jane Waldrop
- Set Dressing/Props: Jesse Roberts
- Lighting Design: Chris Hardy
- Sound Design: Jon Roberts, Jim Scopeletis
- Projection Design: Les Zidel
- Tattoo Design: Laura Moody, Melissa Bailey
- Costume Design: Judy Whelihan
- Running Crew: Trey Ransbotham, Richard Durkin
- House Management: Dave Sinclair
- Box Office Management: Richard Durkin
- Publicity: Rich Klare, Ginger Kohles
- Cover Graphic & Playbill: Ginger Kohles
- Photographer: Laura Moody
Disclaimer: Elden Street Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. ESP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence the opinions expressed in this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6173.
Mark Lee Adams has been involved in theatre for over 40 years in the local Washington DC Metro area as well as NYC and London England. Mark has performed at the Dramatist Guild Theatre on Broadway, at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre Off-Broadway. His credits include work in many local theatres as well: The Folger Theatre Group, Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre, 7th Street Players, The Keegan Theatre, The American Century Theatre, The Journeyman Theatre, ASTA Theatre, The Hayloft Dinner Theatre (Associate Producer), The Lazy Susan Theatre, Discovery Channels, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (Frankenstein) with Donald Sutherland. London, England credits include work at: The Duke of York Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, The Questors Theatre, The British Embassy Players. Mark is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London, England. Mark is also a narrator of audio books for Gildan Audio: “True North”, by Bill George; “Never Give Up”, by Tedy Bruschi and “Five Minds for the Future”, by Howard Gardner among them. Mark currently teaches Advanced Acting at The Little Theatre of Alexandria and still performs locally in many theatres.