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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 09
Tangled Web needs unraveling
Arts & Entertainment
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Tangled Web needs unraveling

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Web
Freehold Theatre
Through March 10


Oh, what a tangled web we weave & when we combine aspects of Charlotte's Web, the beloved children's story about a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte, with an improbable plot about possible infanticide. This is the essence of Brendan Mack's new play, now being performed at Freehold Theatre by STAGEright, one of the new companies around town that have sprouted in the last couple of years.

There is an indefinable likability factor to this company. Their sensibilities about theatrical productions are on a professional level, and this production displays their intent in the crispness in its execution. They are a company to keep an eye on.

Brendan Mack is their artistic director, the guy who basically decides what plays they will produce, and as a sort of resident playwright, he has also decided to produce his own work. That's a great place for a writer to be, if you can create it, and Brendan apparently has. However, you have to be really careful that your work stands up to the scrutiny of a full production, and there are suggested processes writers can go through: readings, developmental productions, etc. Web is a newly written play, and Mack makes a mistake with it: he directs it himself.

Mack clearly has many talents. This is not to quibble with his direction of this play per se. But when someone is so close to the material, there is little space to evaluate it from a distance and determine what you have and what should maybe change.

The play is a courtroom drama, which is already difficult. Legal proceedings need to be accurate, and these proceedings are courtroom-lite, taken mostly from TV law shows or something. The young Fern in the Charlotte's Web story, who saved pig-runt Wilbur from being slaughtered, is grown up and on trial because her year-old son has died and she's accused of his murder.

If we ignore the inconsistencies of why this young woman might have been so charged and move on to what happens, the unique aspects of the script have her move into and out of memories and fantasies, connecting them to the Charlotte's Web story. Her love of animals and her belief that she can talk to them is rooted in the past, and used to suggest she might be a bit nuts - leading to a possibility that she could plead insanity in the death of her child. The play reveals information through these reconstructions, which sometimes work and sometimes confuse. The script and storyline need a revisit in order to clarify the reason for this play: what does Mack really want to say with this story? Moving on to the experience of the evening, though, the production includes some very watchable moments and actors.

In particular, we are introduced to Nicole Merat (a senior at Cornish) who gives a nuanced performance as Fern. She also demonstrates a very sweet singing voice. In scenes of her youth, with Libby Barnard playing her sister and Cozy Josephson playing her best friend, the three of them are funny and age-appropriate in their interactions. Andi Norris plays Charlotte and spends an enormous amount of time on a column, supported by thin pieces of wood and her own strength. Her background as an aerialist came in surprisingly handy.

For more information, go to www.seattlestageright.org or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/217355.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.<>/i>

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