Monday, November 6, 2017

The Eva Triology ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 The thought of seeing a Three Act play on a Friday night was daunting to our hardiest reviewers. So we sent the one person who would be certain to complain about everything: Me.

Then what happens? I love this show. Act One, with but one character, is powerful and intimate; Act Two reveals a cast of characters who give us place and advance the story; and Act Three finishes the action and introduces a little pathos along with a lot of heart. Barbara Hammond's World Premiere is already brilliant. We wonder if she will choose to change one word.

Julia McNeal plays Eva, from younger to older woman. She takes us from not-so-devoted Dublin County daughter in Act One, carrying for her mother who is afflicted with Parkinson's Disease, to the island of Corsica in Act Three, where as a runaway she becomes the fill-in Mom for young Tom (Caleb Cabrera), an American trekker who has gotten separated from his latest Ultra-marathon. (Act Two hints at what may have brought her here.)

We loved McNeal in "Fred's Diner," where she was subdued and put-upon; here she is the somewhat reluctant mistress of her own fate. She gives Eva so much life we find ourselves wishing for Acts Four, Five and Six.

Loretta Greco stages the show brilliantly, especially in Act Two when she keeps the actors in character as the plot spells itself out. What could have become a TV-cop-show investigation instead turns into a fascinating theater piece. Lisa Anne Porter stands out as as Teresa, as do Rod Gnapp as Eamon and the perfectly snake-ish Justin Gillman as Father O'Leary.

It's an Irish show. So it is not surprising that the interior theme appears to be: "Did God Invent Suffering?" Father O'Leary thinks so.

RATINGS ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "The Eva Triology" Four Stars, one each for writing, acting, directing and staging. We are thrilled to see that the company is continuing to turn out intriguing new pieces.

"The Eva Trilogy"
The Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D
San Francisco
Through Nov. 12

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