When a play begins as Eliza Clark’s Recall does- with a frenzied-looking mother and daughter in a dingy hotel room with a blood spot on the floor- it’s obvious it’s going to be a little different. And “different” is certainly an apt description for this intriguing and unique offering from Tiny Engine Theatre and director Paul Sapp, onstage now at Common Ground Theatre in Durham.
The dim lighting and the dusty-looking set create the perfect somber, creepy mood for this fast-moving piece. Also helping to set the tone is eerily perfect original music by Chris Frain. With all of these great accompaniments in place, Clark’s witty dialogue and rich characters are able to shine.
Young Natalie Izlar is perfectly cast as Lucy, a young girl who isn’t quite like other people…in a dangerous kind of way. To give away too many of the character’s devious deeds would give away too much of the show, but suffice it to say that Izlar’s portrayal of Lucy as both sweet child and unfeeling psychopath is the perfect mix. Izlar shares great chemistry with Amanda Lee Scherle, who plays her mother, Justine. Clad in a character-appropriate trashy-chic wardrobe, Scherle creates a Justine who is vulnerable, lonely, and who, most of all, loves and fears her troubled daughter.
After Lucy “befriends” Quinn (Gerald Jones III), a troubled-but-not-quite-as-troubled young boy, and her mother sets her sights on David (Lazarus Simmons), the plot unfolds rapidly and smoothly. Under Sapp’s strong directorial hand, one scene flows effortlessly into the next, drawing viewers into a world where even the most creepy characters are likable, and nothing is what it seems.
Jones III gives a solid performance as a mixed-up kid and shares great chemistry with Izlar. The two bounce dialogue off of each other naturally and have a special kind of connection that is satisfying and believable onstage. While the sub-plot, which involves government officials tracking the kids and other conspiracy-theory type meanderings, is never as fully realized or as explained as it could and probably should be, the show is intriguing enough and quirky enough that it still works. It should also be mentioned that Kirsten Ehlert turns out a fine, funny performance as Charlotte, one of these government officials.
Clark’s writing is not perfect. It is sometimes clumsy, evasive, and a little too bizarre, but still, Recall is fresh, different, and definitely worth seeing. The superb casting and the production values are enough to smooth out any imperfections in the script, and viewers bored with the usual theatrical offerings in the Triangle will find much to enjoy here.
The Tiny Engine Theatre Company presents RECALL at 8 p.m. April 1-4 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.
BOX OFFICE: 919-578-1654 or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1315601.
SHOW: Recall and https://www.facebook.com/events/678448858926368/.
VIDEO PREVIEW (by beerymedia.com): https://vimeo.com/121368200.
PRESENTER: http://www.tinyenginetheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/tinyenginetheatre, and https://twitter.com/tinyengine1.
2015 SEASON: http://www.tinyenginetheatre.com/season.html.
VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919.
Recall (2012 psychological thriller): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/12661/recall (Samuel French, Inc.).
Eliza Clark (Los Angeles playwright and screenwriter): http://www.samuelfrench.com/author/100686/eliza-clark (Samuel French, Inc.). https://twitter.com/ElizaClark (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliza_Clark_%28actress%29 (Wikipedia).
Paul Sapp (Durham, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/paul.sapp.71 (Facebook page).
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 https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.