Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Come on in

And witness the havoc of unannounced intimacy

Express Staff Writer

The place is a remote cabin in the wilds of Alaska. As a blizzard rages outside, a lonely figure, Henry Harry, (Chris Wendelken) lies sleeping under a heap of blankets. Suddenly, he is awakened by the insistent knocking of an unexpected visitor—who turns out to be Rosannah De Luce, (Charlotte Hemmings) a distraught young woman who has fled all the way from Arizona to escape her impending marriage, and who bursts into the cabin dressed in full bridal regalia. Photo by Kirsten Shultz

    It wasn’t exactly like at first sight, but dealing with a total stranger who storms into your reclusive cabin life in Alaska demanding the answers to life’s wrongs since the dawn of time isn’t easy.
    Audience’s emotions will ebb and flow and they will laugh and cry along with the alternately outlandish and infinitely poignant trajectory of the play “Brilliant Traces,” starring Charlotte Hemmings and Chris Wendelken.
    The one-act play—directed by Jonathan Kane—first was presented by New York’s prestigious Circle Repertory Company. The absurdist allegory uses fantastic characterizations to probe into the nature of modern relationships.
    The play opens tonight, Sept. 4, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 8, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $35 for reserved seating and $15 for students. Opening night includes champagne.
    “We did a reading of ‘Brilliant Traces’ two years ago and the audience response was tremendous,” said Kane. “The play is beautifully written and really connects with people on a deep visceral level, which was the main reason we chose it for a production.
    “It is also a great challenge for two actors to pull it off, and in Chris and Charlotte I don’t think you could find better performers. I’m very confident that they will really blow people away and they have put a tremendous amount of hard work into it. But it really comes down to great writing and the play is rich in dynamic and moving monologues about life, love and family—something that everyone can relate to.”
    Wendelken, whose career includes New York theater and television parts, holed up like the hermit his character Henry is for days before the rehearsal.
    Local Hemmings, as Rosannah, has been in fast and furious mode, learning her lines and her character between her work at Smith Sport Optics, art and being a new wife. She just recently began working with Wendelken—the result, she said, makes the chemistry that happens even more plausible.
    “An interesting thing about his character is that this guy (Henry) is a hermit by choice after suffering some trauma and he has forgotten how to relate to people. And she has just run away from her wedding based on something that happened to her,” Hemmings said. “It’s infinitely believable how these two come to interact while a storm rages outside, forcing the exchange.”
    As for her character, “I like her. I feel for her. There are so many parts of her that I feel like are valid in my life. She’s got dad issues, she’s eccentric, she’s got a hot temper, she’s loveable. All those areas of my life that I have to keep in check, I get to bring out. I want to do her justice because I know how hard it is to be lost in someone’s eyes. It’s really important to me that I pay attention to her.”
    The play runs the gamut emotionally, Hemmings said, “from hysterically angry to hysterically crying.” And is still very funny and not a downer, she said.
    “I would say it’s really a play for everyone,” Hemmings said. “Anyone who has ever lost someone, loved someone, anyone who felt like they are on the edge and hanging on. I think it will touch everyone in some way, some more specific than others.”

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