Weekend Theatre Review: Together-Alone at ATA
The Beckmann Theatre, all 35 seats, was snug and cozy this first December weekend of 2021, things finally starting to feel normal. You Are My Sunshine hummed on the speakers as we all took off our layers, setting the mood for performances. Staring at the Modigliani and Musee du Jue de Paume posters on the perfectly aged brick wall, the atmosphere was quaint.
There was a small wooden dog as a prop, a carved oak Labrador that grabbed all of our attention until the lights suddenly shut off at 8:05PM sharp. Writer, Director and American Theatre of Actors Founder, James Jennings in the lighting booth brought us a few years back for a story right at the cusp of the pandemic lockdown. Having lost three screenwriters to COVID-19, this was a personal journey for everyone involved.
The lead, Thomas Crouch as Trasker, immediately grabs the audience with a fierceness and gravitas akin to legends like James Cromwell or David Morse. The language and energy is necessary and perfectly acted. Life, especially during a global pandemic, is not a Disney movie.
Emery Lawrence, in his fifth play with ATA, levels out the playing field with an exhaustion for his elders that sets the plot for a real-life conversation on all of our generational divisions. There are many frustrations that can burn bridges due to age gaps, and Jennings perfectly captures the conflict, and yet also the resolution, that are the little eccentricities of our existences. Lawrence, as Henry Jr., exudes the Gen X anger in such a great way, you feel like you want to tell him to sit down and have a cocktail to take the edge off.
None of this story would be possible without the guide and narration of Danika St. Denis as Trasker’s nurse, Rachel. She has an elegance to her performance that also provides a foundation for the seriousness of the play. At first the character seems obsessed with the personal lives of the nursing home Trasker is “locked up” in, but Jennings words unravel the intentions of the passion she has for those she can still try and save. As the go-between for the feuding father and son, she graces the stage with a calmness that will not overcome the inevitable storm.
The story churns out a brutally honest conclusion that no one can ignore. Beautifully acted by the immensely talented ensemble, the show takes the audience into an environment most of us ignored during the pandemic… a nursing home. The elderly are often dumped into these facilities literally so younger generations do not need to be bothered by the difficulties we all face in the later years of our lives. The show perfectly showcases how just being alive is a poetic chore.
Together-Alone is playing from December 1st through the 12th and you can get tickets at https://americantheatreofactors.org/?tribe_events=together-alone-remount. Live theatre is back with a vengeance! James Jennings and the cast deliver a flat-out poignant work of art that all should see, as it will leave you appreciating not only all of your family, even the ones you don’t agree with, but also to be more self-aware of the mysteries and often unfair trivialities of life.