Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Lost Child (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

In a cabin in the woods, an estranged husband Daniel (Peter James Smith) and wife Ann (Addie Daddio) meet to clean out the place before they sell it.  Seven years have gone by since they were last here.  Seven horrible years since their child disappeared and the accusations began, the press, the court dates, the suspicious police, the hatred from total strangers.

Seven years since their lives were destroyed when their beautiful child vanished without a trace.

Today would have been her birthday.  She of course is the subject of The Lost Child, by Jennifer W. Rowland.  Her name is Angelica (Marilyn Fitoria) and the story really takes off when she re-appears.  Eleven years old, exactly as she was.

Credit: Ed Krieger
What is going on?

The fact she refuses to explain only makes things worse.  Ann and Daniel have had seven years to let their desperate imaginations run wild.  Now events stranger than they'd ever thought possible start to mount up.  It brings out the best and worst in them.

Suspicions about each other boil to the surface in the wake of Angelica's baffling refusal to explain what happened.  Reactions to their child increasingly acting like a teenager, but with far less restraint than most, only heighten the tension.  When answers do come, they seem unbelievable!

Credit: Ed Krieger
The play essentially is a retelling of an archetypical myth.  Someone goes to the land of Faerie and returns years later, even though for them it has hardly been any time at all.  Here Ann and Daniel try to wrap their heads around an answer that gives zero comfort, can give none.  The brutal truth is, the universe is beautiful and wonderful--but not kind.

Which deals with the content of the script.  Scripts consist of mere words without the actors bringing them to life.  Here the three member cast does a fine job, in particular cycling between familiar habit and brain-aching attempts to make sense of what is happening.

It hurts to watch sometimes.

More it hurts to see Angelica try and explain to them, explain why she was so happy in that other realm where there was no time, no emotions, no pain and no (as it turns out) compassion.  Like very small children the "Good Folk" are heartless.  And Angelica, as she cycles through puberty now that her body has returned to space and time, she shows the worst of herself just as her parents do.
Credit: Ed Krieger

Because we're not that compassionate either.

At heart here is a story about the uncanny, and its wondrous but devastating impact.  We know the parents will remain haunted for the rest of their lives.  Maybe, just maybe, they will grow into wisdom.  Angelica, she will not.  Nor will she need to.

Honestly I wish there were more to this.  But also honestly, I have trouble seeing how there could be more.  So I am left thinking and wondering, which has got to be a good thing, yes?

The Lost Child runs Fridays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7pm until September 3, 2017 at the Skylight Theatre (next to Skylight Books) at 1816 1/2 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90027.

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