Windfall Theatre travels to 'The Petrified Forest'
Capable production of Robert Sherwood’s 1930s drama
The ensemble manages an entertaining, balanced dynamic throughout. Randall T. Anderson shrewdly plays Jason Maple, the man who runs the diner. Amanda J. Hull capably navigates through the psycho-emotional subtleties of his daughter, Gabrielle, who works at the diner while longing to escape from the vacuum of rural Arizona. An ostensibly peaceful day is broken up by the sudden arrival of an unsuccessful author and, subsequently, a gangland fugitive seeking refuge at the diner.
Marquette graduate Joe Picchetti plays the failed writer. Intellectually romanticizing his own uncertainty, the character feels kind of like a weak parody, but Picchetti manages to ground him well enough. As gangster Duke Mantee, Robert W.C. Kennedy has a sympathetic kind of exhaustion about him. The character knows he hasn’t much time left. Kennedy avoids letting the character’s sense of impending doom drown out the more intricate aspects of his interaction with his hostages and his colleagues.
The romantic and melodramatic fugues in Sherwood’s script are a bit difficult to take seriously. Any modern production of the drama would have difficulty with this material. Windfall does a pretty good job of meeting the challenges with an earnest production of the decades-old story.
Windfall Theatre’s production of The Petrified Forest runs through March 1 at Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Ave.