By Marcina Zaccaria
What starts out as a woodsy dilemma evolves into a family drama in Sundown, Yellow Moon. Twin sisters find themselves spending time in their father’s house after he gets in an altercation at the school of his employment.
While new elements continue to drive the story, Sundown, Yellow Moon is largely a convincing drama about fraternal twins. While some of the plot focuses on the violent father (Peter Friedman), enough of the story is about the pitfalls of higher education, and the pathways to finding solace. Joey (Eboni Booth), a Fulbright hopeful, and Ray (Lilli Cooper), a musician with ties to the City are a supportive force. The virtues of being a female scholar or musician are celebrated in this production of WP Theater and Ars Nova. Joey and Ray pass their time slowly.
While most moments of tension fly by on a pretty even keel, Peter Friedman really pumps up the volume. His anguish seems quite raw, and his connection to his daughters is unmistakably genuine. JD Taylor’s quiet rage as Carver is similarly truthful. While Carver spends time with Ray, Joey eventually meets Ted, played by Greg Keller. Over discussions about the Cheshire Cat, they become smitten, and have a brief fling. Twinges of empathy are felt on every side after Joey gets into a tragic accident. Her dreams of Fulbright scholarship are dashed.
Obie Award Winning Director Anne Kauffman creates an entirely believable world, with enough charm and dimension. Similarly, Playwright Rachel Bonds (winner of the Tow Foundation’s Residency) proves to be a solid writer, capable of carrying a firm story. There’s a unique poetry in the scenic design by Lauren Helpern. The vertical set includes a forest of trees, cut from wood. As this pared down drama progresses – with scenes from family life in the kitchen and tiny living room – the towering trees seem less overwhelming and serve more like a dramatic backdrop. The rustic, authentic quality seems appropriate.
Actors dressed in plaid give the show a country feel. It’s so refreshing to hear the acoustic guitar cut through, and be only slightly augmented by electronic tones provided by Sound Designer Leah Gelpe. The Indie Rock music in Sundown, Yellow Moon is a bit of a joy. The guitar based tracks are light and earthy. Although I wished that there could have been more songs by The Bengsons, the soulful guitar riffs hold the attention of the most removed audience member. Music doesn’t drive the action, but supports it. In this way, Sundown, Yellow Moon is a hit.
Photos: Ben Arons
Sundown, Yellow Moon is playing at the McGinn/ Cazale (WP Theater) located at 2162 Broadway at 76th Street. It is running until April 1st.