Holy Days – Off Broadway Theater Review
DRY AS CHALK
by Cindy Pierre
published November 15, 2009
now playing Off Broadway at the Spoon theater
through November 21
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
It'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.
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
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 @ stageandcinema.com