Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A Tough But Admirable "Six Years" at Caldwell
“Six Years” Admirable, Tough at Caldwell Theatre
By Skip Sheffield
“Six Years” is a production to be admired, not loved. The heavy-hitting drama by Sharr White continues through Sept. 4 at Caldwell Theatre Company, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
The title refers to the six-year-intervals of the play’s five scenes. Scene one is set in 1949 in a St. Louis motel. Phil Granger (Todd Allen Durkin), a dazed and confused World War II veteran, has returned to his distraught wife Meredith (Margery Lowe). Meredith is distraught because Phil simply disappeared in 1944, when he stopped writing home. Phil never told Meredith where he was or what had happened to him.
Phil has a really bad case of what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Back then he would been labeled “shell-shocked.”
While the couple has been reunited, their relationship will never be smooth. Phil has a volatile temper and severe mood swings. Meredith has filed preliminary divorce papers.
The role of Phil is a challenging opportunity, and Todd Allen Durkin runs with it in his Caldwell debut. He can be charming and funny one moment, acidly sarcastic the next, and frighteningly furious without warning.
The role of Meredith is much less flashy. Mostly it is that of quietly suffering, but Margery Lowe conveys real pain, and when she finally begins to stand up for herself, we feel her pride.
Other roles are more sketchily drawn. The Grangers’ son Michael (Michael Focas) is hardly there; a casualty of war if you will.
Meredith’s brother Jack Muncie (Gregg Weiner) has some short, powerful moments of interaction with unpredictable Phil.
With their marriage in shambles, two additional characters are introduced into the Grangers’ marital drama. Tom Wheaton (David Perez-Ribada) is only too happy to provide a shoulder to cry on- and more- for Meredith. Dorothy (Betsy Graver) is a seductive character who is shocked witness to one of Phil’s scariest breakdowns in a California motel.
Director Clive Cholerton uses video projections and vintage recordings to depict the five different eras. Tim Bennett’s set utilizes a turntable to enable quick, smooth scene changes.
“Six Years” is mostly about bad stuff: war, mental instability, infidelity, cruelty, divorce, the rise of cookie-cutter suburbs and even the effects of bad diet. In short it is a lot like real life, and real life, as most of us know, is never a picnic.
But if you are looking for thought-provoking commentary, heartfelt acting and historical reference, you should find much to admire in “Six Years”
Tickets are $38-$50. Call 561-241-7432 or go to www.caldwelltheatre.org.