Friday, October 19, 2018

The Resting Place: ☼ ☼ ☼

Ashlin Halfnight's "The Resting Place," having its World Premiere at Magic Theatre through November 4, has a disheartening message at its core: We humans are able to ignore those closest to us when they make us uncomfortable.

The story develops slowly. Mitch (James Carpenter), the dad, and his wife Angela (Emile Talbot) have been forced to deal with the suicide of their son, under circumstances that have their entire Michigan home town uniting against them. Their daughters Macy (Emily Radosevich) and Annie (Martha Brigham) have returned home, both to deal with their own grief and to help with their parents.

Things unfold. The story gets seamier. Everyone feels they could have done more to help their son and brother. In the end, guilt overwhelms everyone.

"The Resting Place" is a show well worth seeing, but its main characters feel under-developed. The story twists at plot points, but some of these do not feel nearly as crucial to us as they do to the author. In particular, the wedding-day "almost-confession" of the son to his father is so ambiguous it feels lightweight. Any father would do exactly what Mitch has done.

They take the proverbial gun out of the drawer at the end of Act One -- this becomes what we are all talking about at intermission -- but then forget all about it.

The last scene is agonizingly long and pure T.S. Eliot. This appears to be the way the world ends.

RATINGS ☼  ☼  ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "The Resting Place" Three Stars. This is an excellent ensemble. As time goes on, the author will fill in some back-story holes and his already-strong dialogue will feel like it comes less from him and more from his characters. We are intrigued by the family's treatment -- and non-treatment -- of Liam (Wiley Naman Strasser). We are haunted by Annie's line at the end about having let her brother go to Voice Mail a long time ago. Do we do this, intentionally or unintentionally, to the people we love?

"The Resting Place"
Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D, San Francisco
Through Nov. 4

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