"Three Views of the Same Object," the Henry Murray play that opened Friday night at Next Act Theatre and runs through April 27, is a story of honor and betrayal, truth and lies, the things we do either for or to the people we love.
And in this production, itâ€™s a story told on the shoulders of giants.
Certainly it tells a story about growing old and about the way we all must face the impending end of our lives. It is certainly about the right of each of us to determine how best to hold on to some sense of dignity as the end comes near.
But more than that, it is a story of love, what it makes us do and what it enables us to not do.
There is one old couple in the play, Poppy and Jesse. But there are three versions of this couple, giving us "Three Views of the Same Object," that object being how we want to have some say in how this whole thing comes to an end.
At some point in their lives, Poppy and Jesse signed a suicide pact. When the end was near, they wanted to go together.
It all sounds neat and tidy, but life isnâ€™t tidy. Itâ€™s messy and full of unexpected twists and turns. The best laid plans â€¦ and all of that.
Poppy comes down with cancer and comes face to face with the reality of his life. And Jesse faces that reality too, but there are obviously different ways to anticipate and deal with the same approaching outcome.
Iâ€™m not going to give away how the end comes for each of these couples. But the end seems unimportant when compared with the tortuous journey they each take to get there.
As I said, the story, complicated as it is, is carried to almost unimaginable height on the shoulders of giants in the Milwaukee theater world.
The six actors â€“ James Pickering, Laurie Birmingham, John Kishline, Susan Sweeney, Flora Coker and Jenny Wanasek â€“ may well be one of the finest casts of local actors ever assembled.Â
They lift this play beyond reasonable expectation, and their work is eloquent testimony to the abundant quality theater available in this city.Â
Cokerâ€™s Jesse is an absolute mess. She has been left alone and is full of wonder at what her life has become.
"I feel like Iâ€™m in an airplane looking down on my life," she says. "I just want the plane to land."
She has touched the moment we all have throughout our lives when we want the sorrows and pains to come to an end and leave us in peace. It doesnâ€™t matter if you are old or young, thatâ€™s always something we all deal with.
Pickeringâ€™s Poppy, who quietly suffers the slings and arrows of his Jesse, tries so hard to explain what has happened to their lives.
"I was so buried in my own reality that I couldnâ€™t see you," he says.Â
This is a play about aging and what we all face. But it is so much more about our lives and how we live them by choice and how we live them by happenstance.Â It is moving and powerful and with an absolutely arresting set by William Boles, it demands a full focus from the audience.
This is a production not just for the aged, but for the ages.
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 April 30, 2016
Playwright August Wilson is famous for his 10-play cycle examining the experience of black people in the United States, and none of his plays stands as revered as "Fences," which The Rep opened Friday night.
Published April 29, 2016
A play about life in the theater, a life full of ups and downs and in betweens, is sometimes a shaky thing, trying to connect with an audience that may or may not have the inside knowledge that you need to get all the jokes.
Published April 28, 2016
In our lust to keep Milwaukee a happy place for millions of millennials, are we going to get stuck with a bunch of buildings that look like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon?
Published April 26, 2016
Several Milwaukee theaters - from The Rep to First Stage to Next Act and more - have become crusaders for the world around them, staging productions and activities that try to shed light on a wide variety of social issues.
Published April 23, 2016
Place. Play. Performance. When all three P's are there, a night at the theater can turn into magic, and that's what you get at "Ernest in Love" that opened at In Tandem Theatre Friday night.
Published April 21, 2016
Everybody in Wisconsin was all worked up about the presidential primary races a couple of weeks ago but the race between Sen. Ron Johnson and former Sen. Russ Feingold could have a lasting impact on the balance of power in Washington.
Published April 19, 2016
The recent staging of the touching hit musical "Once" that played a week at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts raised an issue that some people think is important to the quality of a production.
Published April 16, 2016
For a master class on how to put a drunk scene on stage, let me recommend "Fallen Angels," the Noel Coward drawing room comedy that opened Friday night at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
Published April 16, 2016
Hotel rooms are expanding with openings imminent or on the drawing board for the near future. Perhaps the one drawing the most attention is the Klimpton Journeyman Hotel, scheduled to open in the Historic Third Ward in June.
Published April 14, 2016
A hero has to step forward to save the city somewhere around $2 million after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the city in its battle with Silk Exotic over opening a strip club Downtown.