Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Friday, May 16, 2014 at 6:15 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

In ‘Lollyville,’ the past comes back to haunt a town

A review of “Lollyville,” a work by local playwrights Juliet Waller Pruzan and Bret Fetzer, about a town populated solely by women and the ghost that returns to wreak havoc.


Special to The Seattle Times

THEATER REVIEW

‘Lollyville’

By Juliet Waller Pruzan and Bret Fetzer. Through Saturday, May 24, at Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle; $12-$18 (206-860-2970 or machamonkey.org).

advertising

Everyone is reeling from trauma — both universal and deeply personal — in “Lollyville,” a new work by local playwrights Juliet Waller Pruzan and Bret Fetzer.

Originally conceived as a short play for On the Boards’ Northwest New Works festival 15 years ago, “Lollyville” has been expanded into a full-length piece that traces a clear through-line from Samuel Beckett to Will Eno to Pruzan and Fetzer in its absurdist take on the human condition.

Macha Monkey’s production, directed by Kristina Sutherland Rowell, struggles to take the script’s abstractions and translate them into concrete visual ideas, but the play is often evocative enough to overcome the limitations of the stagecraft.

Lollyville is a town populated solely by women, sealed off from the outside world thanks to a collapsed train tunnel. A selectively invisible ghost (Matthew Middleton), whose history with the town is less than pleasant, arrives determined to wreak havoc.

The ghost toys with physical and emotional states, leaving a schoolteacher (Jillian Vashro) barely able to move and persuading a psychiatrist (Rebecca Goldberg) to fall in love with a man who isn’t there.

For the most part though, the ghost doesn’t have to do much — fragility and loneliness is deeply ingrained here without any of his meddling. While the train tunnel accident looms large in the town’s history as the event that separated Lollyville from the world, it also seemingly separated the inhabitants from each other. Conversations are brief, fragmented and futile — kind of like everyone is talking to a ghost.

The aching isolation is personified in Ruth (Tracy Leigh), a factory worker who’s cobbled together a makeshift family by essentially kidnapping girls and keeping them in her basement. Leigh’s performance is simultaneously beguiling, innocently childlike and desperately conniving.

Leigh turns out to be a more effective conduit for the melancholy, sometimes willfully opaque material than the staging, a series of haphazardly blocked scenes in a cavernous space, with a set design by Kaillee Coleman that feels stuck between stark minimalism and on-the-nose details.

Despite the limitations of this premiere production, Pruzan and Fetzer have created an intriguing, moody fairy tale, a work 15 years in the making that feels like its theatrical journey might just be getting started.

Dusty Somers: dustysomers@gmail.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►