Friday night (April 19), Post Productions opened the Shadowbox Theatre’s audience to what is best described as a three-ring circus of human condition conflict. Although the play, written by award-winning Eve Lederman, is nowhere near being comedic, the New York playwright impressively grafts in lines that perfectly loosen the mood in what is a very weighty subject.
Protagonist Rachel Klein, played with considerable freshness by Jessie Gurniak in her first dramatic role, has launched a malpractice lawsuit against therapist Dr. Marilyn Morganstern. Michele Legere plays the fretful doctor who becomes nothing less than Klein’s mother figure, a position she rejects while also rejecting Klein as a patient.
Two separate, but closely interconnected, stories work their way to fruition on either side of the stage, although the demarcation is not quite black and white, a testament to the creativity of set designer Fay Lynn who also directs the play. Klein’s first scene requires Gurniak to execute an eerie visual introduction hinting at her less than stable mental situation, acerbated by her willingness to step over the line, often, causing dramatic frustration for the therapist. After Klein is removed from Morganstern’s client list, the audience learns she is stalking her therapist, wanting back on the list. With a simple change of lighting the focus moves from therapist’s office to Morganstern being interviewed during a deposition by Klein’s Latina lawyer Carmen Garcia. Her questions are continually countered by insurance lawyer Stan Goodman.
Garcia, acted by Shayna Reiss, is obviously a rookie at law with Reiss executing a brilliant performance in which her character’s assertiveness is offset with a completely believable halting delivery. Goodman is played by Paul Salmon who acts with appropriate overconfidence and arrogance as befits the character. Despite the degrees of separation of their experience, it turns out Garcia is no junior when it comes to responding to Goodman’s many interjections with terse back-at-you lines.
Throughout the continuing scenes of Klein and her therapist, the audience has a front row seat of the machinations between patient and doctor. It doesn’t go well. Lederman cleverly pitches the two characters against each other in subtle ways. Initially, Klein walks around the office rearranging its contents. Morganstern follows, nonchalantly and meticulously putting things back in place.
Moving the action between two identifiable section of the set lets the audience form its own opinions of what is truth. Is it what happens in Morganstern’s office with Klein, or is it what Morganstern says to Klein’s lawyer? That is the genius of Lederman’s intelligently written script.
In the opening act, there is mention of Dr. Jerome Adler, Morganstern’s supervisor. To the delight of the audience Adler comes to life in the second act. Joey Ouellette gives the role the particular frenzied fear of a doctor who took nine tries to obtain certification and now sees his career at the Blackburn Institute slipping away. It is very obvious Ouellette is no stranger to the theatre with over 500 acting, directing and playwright credits. He runs his performance on all eight cylinders quickly endearing himself to the audience.
The play is somewhat special for Post Productions, it is the premiere of Lederman’s work on any stage and beat a planned US production. There is also an additional artistic element. Lynn has decorated Morganstern’s office with three pieces of art. Two are for sale with the third, artist Nora Harvey’s interpretation of the play, being raffled. Theatregoers can purchase raffle ticket at $5 for one or three for $10.
Without question the writing is both witty and consequential. But that is only one third of a good play. The second is the acting, here Lynn deserves considerable kudos for setting her characters up to bring honest and compelling life to the script. The third element is, of course, content. Nothing But The Truth tackles a number of societal issues from child pornography to suicide in a manner that is both contemplative and contemporary.
The play will have four more performances, April 20, 25, 26, 27 2019 at The Shadowbox Theatre on Howard Avenue in east Windsor.
Nothing But the Truth is produced by Michael K. Potter, Fay Lynn & Michael O’Reilly aided by production assistant Ezra Poku-Christian. Stage Manager is Sadie Alejandria with Fay Lynn handling not only set design but construction as well.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.