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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06
Wonderful Day a wonderful play
Arts & Entertainment
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Wonderful Day a wonderful play

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

My Wonderful Day
Seattle Public Theater
Through February 20


My Wonderful Day, a play by Alan Ayckbourn now playing at Seattle Public Theater, is a fun look at how adults see (or more properly don't see) children around them. Directed with warmth and great comic timing by Marcus Goodwin, the play focuses on 9-year-old Winnie and her homework assignment: write down everything that happens to her in a day.

Winnie has to be an exceptional actress, and SPT found one in N'Tasha Anders, still a student at Cornish College of the Arts. She must be short (and Anders is that) and also be able to convince the audience that she's (almost) 9 and doesn't understand these strange, loud adults as they demonstrate how very ugly adulthood can be. Anders makes cute, pained faces, shakes her head bewilderedly, and waggles her fingers in an expressive way. She makes us laugh.

Her single mother, Laverne, is very pregnant, but under the gun to go to work. She hopes to save enough for them all to move back to a dream life in Martinique, where they've emigrated from. Allison Strickland plays the lower-class working mother with warmth and a wide-eyed doggedness, trying to juggle cleaning with a semi-sick child home from school. Mom has come up with a great way for her daughter to learn French in anticipation of the move by declaring Tuesdays the day they speak French together. As Winnie speaks French to adults, they decide that maybe she can't speak English, allowing them to become even more inappropriate around her.

These other adults include Kevin Tate (Shawn Law), a famous TV personality with a strong-willed producer wife (Candace Vance as Paula), a pretty dish on the side (Emily Grogan as Tiffany), and a sycophantic friend (Evan Whitfield as Josh). Their not-so-wonderful adult conversations around Winnie are cause for wincing, which both the audience and Winnie do, but also the cause for a lot of laughter.

Law plays the temperamental TV diva well, but doesn't allow us to see much of the charismatic fellow that must draw people toward the character. He does the narcissistic, needy side very well.

Vance doesn't appear until very late in the play, but since her character is talked about a lot, it's a relief when she is there in the flesh for us to see and hear. She then comes across as entirely too substantial and capable to stand for Kevin's shenanigans, and one wishes she could find someone worth her while.

Grogan flits about in a dithery, funny way, but also shows a real concern for Winnie. Her character is another that seems too nice to be involved with Kevin Tate. Even Josh, a not-so-bright hanger-on, seems better than Kevin. Whitfield has a lovely moment where he talks to Winnie about his own daughter and gets to be both tender and very, very silly.

The play can be looked at as just a lot of fun, or you can look more deeply into the class chasm presented and the mystifying allure that celebrities have to the public, or even the struggles of parenting and relationships. Ayckbourn is incredibly good at comedic rhythms, and director Goodwin makes the most of them.

For more information, go to www.seattlepublictheater.org or call 206-524-1300.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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