What, exactly, is love? How do the ways in which we perceive others interact with our definitions of love? These are questions explored by Adrienne Earle Pender’s “Somewhere in Between,” onstage now at Theatre in the Park. Pender’s story, directed by Maggie Rasnick, attempts to answer these queries through a close examination of McKenna Hahn (Page Purgar), a women who has recently lost her husband. McKenna struggles through her grief with the help- and hindrance- of her well-meaning best friend Stacey (Brenda Lo) and her over-protective brother Jackson (Chris Milner). Her grief is made even more complex, however, when she learns a disturbing secret about her deceased husband. Suffice it to say that he wasn’t exactly who she thought he was and that he led a double life of sorts.
While McKenna is left to grapple with her confusion and pain and to ultimately redefine love, she also must find and finally learn to stand up for herself, a feat made more difficult by her husband’s pushy sister Denise (Hazel S. Edmond).
Purgar, as always, turns out a solid performance, carefully navigating McKenna’s emotional turmoil in a way that feels convincing, natural, and never overdone. Equally strong performances are doled out by the rest of the cast, and the set- the entire show takes place in McKenna’s living room- is realistic and believable.
The direction is strong and feels emotionally in-tune with the characters and their battles. The fact is that there’s nothing really wrong with this production, at least not technically, but there’s nothing really right either. Pender’s writing, while “correct” in the standard sense, is not gripping or compelling. Her characters, though well-acted and somewhat interesting, are mainly one-dimensional, and though her script poses thought-provoking questions, it never really probes into them as deeply as it should.
Viewers will leave feeling like they’ve had a “fine” theatre experience. Like the show’s title, the play isn’t wonderful, it isn’t horrible, it’s just, in a bland and non-memorable sort of way, “somewhere in between.”
Theatre in the Park presents SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, a world premiere by Adrienne Earle Pender at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18-20, 3 p.m. Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27, and 3 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $22 ($16 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel), except $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6058 or http://www.theatreinthepark.com/group_sales.php.
SHOW: http://theatreinthepark.com/calendar/event/34 and https://www.facebook.com/events/1482484998674535/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://vimeo.com/105693256.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/, and https://www.facebook.com/theatreintheparkraleigh, https://twitter.com/TheatreInPark, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_in_the_Park.
NOTE: All shows are wheelchair/walker accessible, and large-print playbills are usually available.
Adrienne Earle Pender (playwright): https://www.facebook.com/adrienne.e.pender (Facebook page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.