The past weekend was one about growing older and the memory of lives together in Milwaukee theater, themes that lit up two poignant productions.
The first example – Next Act's "Three Views of the Same Object" – was a courageous and moving production about the end of our lives and how we face that time.
I followed that with "Skin Tight," the remounting of the hour-long play by Gary Henderson at Renaissance Theaterworks. Ten years ago, I saw the Renaissance production, and this time the company brought back the original cast and its original director, Laura Gordon.
This new version, running through April 27, is even richer and more nuanced than the original. It’s as if Gordon and stars Leah Dutchin and Braden Moran have lived these roles each day for the last decade and have just decided to show us how very much they have learned about life in that time.
The story is about love, but it is even more about life, the life that Tom and Elizabeth had in a New Zealand hamlet.
They bring to life the memory of their courtship, their first time, the war that interrupted their lives, the affair that almost did, the child they had who drifted so far away she seemed like a stranger, the love for the land and the loss of the farm they loved so much.
And while they revel in the vibrancy and vitality of the days of their youth, filled with sensuality and passions, they also hold each other close in order to share the disintegration and inevitable end of their lives.
At one point, while Tom is washing her hair, she asks, "Will you wash my body when I die?" He is frozen and struck mute with the very thought.
There is a turbulence to love and life, and Dutchin and Moran ride those waves with both an unyielding force and an enviable grace. Their performances drip with passion and with the kind of fears and regrets that mark all of our lives.
There is a significant amount of joyful abandon in "Skin Tight" as the young people slide willingly into their lives together. Laughs come easily. But underlying the humor is the incessant drumbeat of the tears and sorrows that wait for all of us.
Gordon steers the play into almost as much dance as drama. The choreography by Maria Gillespie and the additional fight choreography by Ryan Schabach is alive with the kind of power that commands your focus and attention.
Both Dutchin and Moran have an incredible chemistry and a kind of maturity that lets us see the places they have been and the places they are going. Their affection for each other is palpable, and they are brave enough to create some memorable moments before they move on to other matters.
Nothing about their lives has been clear or without some kind of regret.
"I thought love would be easy," Elizabeth says at one point.
She may have been talking about love, but in reality she was talking about life, from beginning until the end.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published July 1, 2015
The Women's World Cup is turning out to be yet another example of why soccer is called "the beautiful game." Here are six reasons to love watching the tournament.
Published June 30, 2015
The No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the world, Germany and the United States, will meet tonight for a berth in the final of the Women's World Cup. Both teams were favored to win the tournament before it started and the game feels like it should be the final.
Published June 29, 2015
Just one day after the nation was rocked to its foundation by the Supreme Court decision to honor love in all its forms the story of another love that blossomed as the world was changing came to our attention. It's the APT production of "Pride and Prejudice."
Published June 29, 2015
Pity is a coomplex thing but it's relatively easy int he world of sports. There are good guys and bad guys and we like some of them and dislike others. It's all a big pity party.
Published June 28, 2015
"The Island" is a play about the brutality and pain of apartheid in South Africa. But it is also more than that - a tale about the obligation to protest against unworthy conditions. It is a difficult and meaningful play to watch.
Published June 26, 2015
The Milwaukee Bucks, who didn't have much shooting in their arsenal last season, went for exactly that in both the NBA draft and a draft-night trade. Rashad Vaughn, a shooter from UNLV, and Greivis Vasquez, a veteran shooter from the Toronto Raptors, will join the Milwaukee Bucks.
Published June 25, 2015
Summerfest was nothing more than grass and mud in the early days, the level of excitement soon took on a massive personality. The Beach Boys played after a driving rainstorm and Orbison was a wonderful gentleman.
Published June 25, 2015
Following the Rolling Stones can be a problem for any band. But Florida Georgia Line put on its own high-energy show at the Marcus Amphitheater on the first official night of Summerfest.
Published June 24, 2015
The Milwaukee Bucks look to pick up a power forward in the NBA draft Thursday night. The two names most often mentioned are Bobby Portis from Arkansas and Kevon Looney from UCLA, but both Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin are getting some mentions, as well.
Published June 23, 2015
Sports fans provide support for their teams, both moral and financial. I think fans deserve to be treated with respect and be given honest answers about some of the questions that face teams in trouble, like the Brewers.