From the ridiculous to the sublime, The San Francisco Blog Reviewing Staff saw two (2) two-person shows this weekend. Let's just say Theatreworks' West Coast premiere of Eric Cable's "The Velocity of Autumn" is so good it almost puts to rest the memory of...that other thing.
Susan Greenhill is spectacular. She plays Alexandra, the seventy-nine year old mother of Chris (Mark Anderson Phillips). She has barricaded herself in her Park Slope apartment because her other two children want to put her in a retirement home. She is determined to stay in her own home and has filled bottles with highly inflammable film developing fluid to prove her point. She walks around with her late husband's Zippo lighter (which still works), and if anyone makes a wrong move she will blow up the entire neighborhood.
Enter Chris. He is the son who went away, who never quite fit in. He is, we come to see, just like his mother. They understand each other. The police are standing by outside. If Chris fails to figure out a solution to this problem the world goes up in smoke.
Ms. Greenhill gives such honesty to Alexandra, who realizes she is losing her body and mind as time passes. "Every day, another old body part shrivels," she says. " A friend dies. Your world is ending." And her memory is failing. "I'm not me anymore." The only world she has left is the small, familiar one inside her apartment. She will not leave without a fight.
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division, whose members are not as old as Alexandra but sometimes cannot remember where they put their keys, awards "The Velocity of Autumn" Four Stars. How many? Four. See? We remembered.
Mark Anderson Phillips we know well..."The 39 Steps," "Ideation" and so many more... but Susan Greenhill -- who is this wonderful actor? She does a lot of TV. We hope she finds a home in the Bay Area very soon. We need to see her again.
"The Velocity of Autumn"
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through June 26