Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews

Holy Days – Off Broadway Theater Review 




picture - Holy DaysTheater Review

by Cindy Pierre

published November 15, 2009


Holy Days

now playing Off Broadway at the Spoon theater

through November 21


The set for Retro Productions' Holy Days, much like the state of life and agriculture in Kansas during The Great Depression, looks like it has been wrung of all its moisture.  Scenic designers Jack and Rebecca Cunningham and Justin Sturges have evoked a dustbowl, from the chalk illustrations of dust clouds that comprise the background to the unfinished wooden furniture that appears to have been left baking in the sun.  Despite the challenges, one family refuses to leave.  Still, all is dry, all is desolate, and all is uncomfortably downtrodden.  Unfortunately, as much as the visuals tap into the vein of the era, the performances offer no counterpart, creating a realistic enactment of Sally Nemeth's play but a woefully non-theatrical one just the same.


picture - Holy DaysIt's not that the cast isn't talented.  Everyone falls into their roles like coins into a slot machine under Peter Zinn's direction. Rosie, a workhorse turned lifeless and dejected, is played true to the letter by Heather E. Cunningham.  In addition to the hardships that the drought brings, Rosie is suffering from the loss of a child with husband Gant (Joe Forbich).  Her unfettered melancholy almost antagonizes Molly (Casandera M.J. Lollar), a mom-to-be and wife to Will (Lowell Byers).  But despite her endeavor to make Rosie confront the past and jolt the audience's sensibilities, nothing lifts the dreary atmosphere of this play.


Another stagnant element is the play's format.  The playwright alternates between monologue and dialogue wherein each character gets to elaborate on, ahem, the moroseness of the situation.  Every story is relevant and every exchange is meaningful, but the back and forth is formulaic in a drama that desperately needs deviation of a different kind.  We need to see a spring in the distance, even if it's a mirage.  These characters all undergo a release in certain respects, but they're trickles.  For all the dryness, the audience is left clutching their throats for a gush.


Though a realistic portrayal. Holy Days could use an ample helping of fancy.  We’re already coping with rations of food, faith and hope being low;  should we also be deprived of scraps of entertainment?


cindypierre @


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