Everyone is tired of Susan Howson talking about this play. Let us allow her to get it out of her system so we can get back to work.
Addie Barnhart (Ellen), Landon Nagel (Dean), McLean Jesse (Katha), and Xander H. Wong (Ryu). Photo by Bill Sigafoos.
Update #1 — April 26, 2016; 1:51 PM
Update! Maple & Vine has been extended for five more performances, which means that if you have been putting it off, you’ve got a little grace period.
Friday, May 13th, 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 14th, 7:30 PM
Sunday, May 15th, 3:00 PM (with post performance talkback)
Friday, May 20th, 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 21st, 7:30 PM
— ∮∮∮ —
Original — April 12, 2016
What it is
Maple and Vine is a play by Jordan Harrison. You could even call it a “little play.” It runs under two hours, has only five cast members, and tangles with one concept–albeit a complex one.
Katha and Ryu are a disillusioned NYC couple struggling to keep it together after a miscarriage, when they find themselves strongly tempted to join an exclusive gated community that pretends like it’s 1955. No modern technology, no modern lingo, no modern fabrics, and definitely no modern sensibilities about a woman having a job or a people of different colors receiving equal treatment.
All goes pretty well. Maybe too well. Is a simpler time really a more complex time? What on earth do we want from our lives? Do we really feel more free under more restrictions, as one character suggests?
Who’s behind it
Firehouse Theatre, with director Mark J. Lerman. The cast includes McLean Jesse as Katha (you might remember her from Stupid Fucking Bird), Xander H. Wong, Landon Nagel, Addie Barnhart, and Adam Valentine, who are all wearing the fantastic costumes of Matthew Allar, who also designed the set. I would like Matthew Allar to come to my house, design it, take over my wardrobe, design that, and then do it all over again. He may be the star of the show.
Other stars, though, are just about everybody else in it. I was particularly taken with Landon Nagel and Addie Barnhart, whose chemistry–or lack of it–is really important to the play. And Nagel’s character Dean’s back-and-forth with the convincingly desperate Roger (Adam Valentine) feels frigging real.
For the leads, McLean Jesse has such a magnetic glow of energy about her that it’s hard to play opposite, I imagine, although Xander H. Wong tried really hard. As the play went on, he was able to relax into his role, which evolves into what’s probably the most difficult role in the play.
Personal note to Addie Barnhart: You were either born to play this role or it was written for you. Nothing you say will convince me otherwise. Also, plz be in everything from now on thx.
Where it is
Firehouse Theatre is absolutely one of my favorite spaces in town–I clearly prefer a small theater (hello, The Basement!), as I like getting up close and personal with the actors. But in this case, the reactions of the audience were just as interesting to me. Producing Artistic Director Joel Bessin asked the audience at the start whether or not they’d return to 1955 if they could–the most vocal responses were some resounding “NOPE”s. I thought about that a lot during the play. I missed 1955 by a few decades, but I certainly am no stranger to decade nostalgia. We’ve got to remember, though, that we’re past a certain point in time for a reason. We’ve moved on. Just because 1955 has ol’ Matthew Allar doing their wardrobe and everyone looks awesome and put-together, doesn’t mean our lives would be more beautiful.
When it is
Maple and Vine runs on various dates through Sunday, May 8th. See schedule for details.
How much it costs
$35 for general admission, $15 for students (with valid ID), $16 for military (with valid ID), $30 for seniors, and $40 for vintage date night (must be purchased in pairs). See site to buy tickets and get details on that vintage date night, which sounds pretty rad.
Other things to note
There’s street parking on Broad that’s fairly easy in the evening. One block over and you’re squarely in the Fan, in case four-lane roads freak you out to park on.
Firehouse sells beer, wine, and soft drinks as well as snacks both before the show and at intermission.
If you don’t go do this, you will…
Be able to focus on your work a lot better than if you do see it–it’ll occupy your thoughts for several days.