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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 40
Forward Flux presents The Summer House
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Forward Flux presents The Summer House

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

THE SUMMER HOUSE
FORWARD FLUX PRODUCTIONS
(AT GAY CITY ARTS)
Through October 8


The new play, The Summer House, by Sarah Bernstein weaves together young college students, end of summer angst, vacation hi-jinks, drinking and rape culture in a cinematic 70-minute offering. All the other vacation house sharers have left for their respective colleges and only the house renter, Gil (Cameron Hodges), and two best friends, Harley (Tori Nelson) and Dylan (Te Yelland) are left.

The rhythm of their last day and night together in the house is slow and aimless, partly by design, and perhaps a bit by fussy set changes. Gil is worried about getting his steep deposit back and has found a hedgehog (?!) in the pool drain that he can't get out. Harley just doesn't want to leave and go back to real life yet and Dylan is glad to have Harley to her almost-self for once. All of them know each other well, going back to high school.

But a mystery hangs in the air like a cloud: another young woman has gone missing. Did she wander off with some town boys? Did Gil put a roofie in her drink last night? Did something more desperate happen? They scan their cells occasionally, sometimes pushing away dark thoughts, sometimes worrying that they'll find something terrible.

All three are still trying to figure themselves out, but all of them represent some very privileged students. They're easily presumed to be rich, and with few social boundaries of restraint hindering them from saying exactly what they think, no matter how scathing. Dylan is the most restrained and anxious of the trio, though she finally demonstrates how far she'll go to follow the most unrestrained of actions. The ultimate follower.

Harley is the quintessential mean girl. She's mean to everyone and somehow everyone puts up with it. She doesn't seem phased by any rotten comments, nor by the mysterious disappearance, and we don't know how much of an act that is. As portrayed by Nelson, Harley really doesn't care. Nelson has exactly the right air of dismissal, nonchalance, and protective armor to pull all that off.

Similarly, Yelland is pitch perfect as the follower, the insecure best friend who knows so much about everyone that she could destroy the best of them, but too scared to even try. Dylan also longs for Gil's attention, even as we find out more about him that makes him too repellent to be attractive.

Jordan Gerow's sound design generally hits the right notes for the constant underscore of the ocean right next door. A problem is the lazy sound effect that is supposed to startle the audience and the characters - a loud generic noise. It sounds like someone dropping a book or piece of wood on the floor. Each time, it takes one out of the play, back to the small theater. It should have been a much more connected noise that suggests a car door banging, or a garbage can falling over, or something falling into the pool.

Besides that particular flaw, there is a lot to admire about all the undercurrents packed into the script in a compressed space. The dialogue is real sounding, although pathetic. The relationships are also real feeling, although deeply flawed. The ending may not be fully earned, but the ambiguity makes the production continue to work on in your mind.

For more information, go to www.forwardflux.com.

Discuss your opinions with SGNcritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings@blogspot.com.

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TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival announces lineup with a new name & expanded vision
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ArtsWest presents a gripping and captivating version of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts
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Gabriel Prokofiev ruled with 'When the City Rules'
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Dolly Parton rocked, rolled and wowed us at Kent's Showare!
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Forward Flux presents The Wedding Gift
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Forward Flux presents The Summer House
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Café Nordo presents Hotel Nordo
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Bellevue's Front Row Fashion Runway Show presented by Vogue and the trends that are here to stay!
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'TriColore' a brilliant program at Pacific Northwest Ballet
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Fuqua's Seven remake a politically-charged Western funhouse
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Heartfelt Queen a triumphant tale of resilience and grit
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