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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

High-School Reunion

Theater Review

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It's safe to assume that the light shining on Angela Iannone on the stage of the Off-Broadway Theatre during The Pavilion is traveling close to 300 million meters per second, same as anywhere else in space. If the light hit the stage any faster, it'd be moving backward in time, which is exactly where the play is set-roughly nine years ago, during a high-school class' 20-year reunion. It's the story between a man (a witty Mark Ulrich) and a woman (an emotionally engaging Mary MacDonald Kerr) who almost spent their lives together. It spills out over the stage with impressive radiance, punctuated by Iannone in the role of poetic narrator, intermittently slipping in and out of every other character in the play.

The poetry isn't terribly profound and the dialogue between these romantic acquaintances 20 years later may not be particularly gripping, but there's a compelling emotional gravity binding it all together that is every bit as mysterious as the force that keeps light moving at a constant velocity. There's a typical love story set in a typical high-school reunion punctuated by some solid free verse. But there is little doubt that the play wouldn't be nearly as compelling as it is without this highly talented team working on the production. The dynamic between Kerr and Ulrich is completely engrossing, as is Iannone's interaction between the two in a variety of different roles. Some incredibly witty lines offset the story's intense, dramatic edge. David Cecsarini, Next Act Theatre's producing artistic director, has pieced together a thoughtful, well-crafted end to a consistently good season.

Next Act's production of The Pavilion runs now through May 3 at the Off-Broadway Theatre.