Review: Another Bone (Redtwist Theatre)

| October 8, 2014
Jan Ellen Graves and Jacqueline Grandt star as Rhonda and Marie in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)        
      
Another Bone

Written by Cathy Earnest
Directed by Ian Frank
at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Oct 19  |  tickets: $30-$35   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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A confusing, melodramatic view on post-9/11 psychology

     

Michael Sherwin, Jacqueline Grandt and Justin Burns in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)

    
Redtwist Theatre presents
    
Another Bone

Review by Jacob Harmon

There is certainly passion behind Another Bone. The actors give it their all, dominating the small stage with strong presence and purpose. It is an extremely admirable effort, yet the show has a fatal flaw: the story is entirely nonsensical. Written by Chicago playwright Cathy Earnest, Another Bone struggles to find both tone and meaning. It wants to be a compelling mystery inspired by the ramifications of 9/11 and a psychological study on family. In the end, it manages to be neither. This is a show filled with horribly unlikable characters, leaving the audience nobody to sympathize with when the show depends on it. The result is too melodramatic to be taken seriously.

Jacqueline Grandt in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)After floating around at festivals and readings for three years, Another Bone receives it’s first proper performance at the Redtwist Theatre under the direction of Ian Frank. The tiny storefront is perfect for the intended intimacy of the production; the audience sits onstage around the actors as they perform. The Manhattan apartment set, as designed by Eric Luchen, Adrian Hulyk and Gabrielle Rivera, is stark and effective. It is surrounded by white walls with black linings, signifying photographs. Actors work with a dining table and desk, with floor markings to tell the audience which room they are in. The most memorable prop is a collection of human bones that slowly grows as the show goes on.

Jacqueline Grandt, a Redtwist veteran, gives a powerful lead performance as Marie, a widow who lost her firefighter husband in 9/11. She has since remarried and focuses on her career as a photographer, a sub-plot that reappears whenever the story calls for it. It is Grandt’s acting that is easily the most memorable aspect of the show; she owns the space with the material she is given. That material, though, is all over the place. Marie starts receiving her late husband’s bones in the mail, initiating a bizarre series of events that the show never properly justifies. Many pieces of fiction can pull this off, but the characters in Another Bone are sloppy caricatures that are redefined  again and again based on what the given scene requires.

Annie Prichard and Jacqueline Grandt in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho) Justin Burns, Jacqueline Grandt and Annie Prichard in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)Jan Ellen Graves, Jacqueline Grant and Michael Sherwin in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho) Michael Sherwin, Justin Burns and Jacqueline Grandt in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)

Jan Ellen Graves, as Marie’s friend Rhonda, is mostly wasted in what could have been an intriguing role. A widow of a firefighter lost in a house fire, Rhonda is brought out whenever Marie needs to question herself or her actions, acting more like a figment of her subconscious than an actual character. Their relationship goes from trading generic, loving barbs over drinks to screaming at each other in fury, with almost no logical progression. Michael Sherwin is similarly treated as Marie’s second husband, Frank. His purpose is to be the “perfect man”, only becoming an actual character near the end, right as the show remembers he exists. Marie’s teenaged son, portrayed by Justin Burns, is another example of a one-note creation that is all plot-device. Burns does a fine job with his dialogue, but he is barely in the show, losing any emotional power that the character should carry. He is given the melodramatic final line, a morbid declaration that comes off as nothing but silly.

Another Bone attempts to become a mystery when it brings in the character of Stephanie, played by Annie Prichard.  As another 9/11 widow, Prichard gives a strong performance; however, Earnest felt the need to morph this character with every scene that she is in. She carries the show’s most baffling moment: an acoustic sing-a-long to “House of the Rising Sun”. The audience is never meant to know if Prichard’s character is “good” or “evil” until the final scenes, where the answer is made clear in the most unsubtle manner possible. This gives the play the opposite of a denouement: just an unsatisfying scene of shouting characters that are just as confused as the audience. Thankfully, Grandt’s commanding performance gives the ending (and show) a hint of the meaning that it so desperately seeks.

  
Rating: ★★
  
   

Another Bone continues through October 19th at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $30-$35, and are available by phone (773-728-7529) or online through Arts-People.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at Redtwist.org(Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission)

Jan Ellen Graves, Jacqueline Grandt and Michael Sherwin in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)

Photos by Isabella Coelho


     

artists

cast

Justin Burns (Ned), Jacqueline Grandt (Marie), Jan Ellen Graves (Rhonda), Annie Prichard (Stephanie), Michael Sherwin (Frank)

behind the scenes

Ian Frank (director), Allison Queen (stage manager), Lauren A. Miller (assistant stage manager), Eric Luchen (scenic design), Kathryn Lesko (lighting design), Ben Conners (sound design), Allison Smith (costume design), Cassie Scaman (props design), Catherine Miller (dramaturg), Frank Sjodin (set construction assistant), Adrian Hulyck, Gabrielle Rivera (scenic design and production interns), Jessie Chapppe, Catherine Miller (casting directors), Charles Bonilla (box office manager), E. Malcolm Martinez (box office associate), Johnny Garcia (box office associate, associate producer), Jan Ellen Graves (graphics and marketing, co-producer), Michael Colucci (co-producer), Isabella Coelho (photos)

Jan Ellen Graves and Jacqueline Grandt in Redtwist Theatre's "Another Bone" by Cathy Earnest, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Isabella Coelho)

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Category: 2014 Reviews, Jacob Harmon, Redtwist Theatre

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