@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Impossible Marriage

By Beth Henley, directed by Nikka Ziemer

  • (L to R): Jonsey Whitman (Nathaniel Harper), Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon), Reverend Jonathan Larance (Shaun Hadfield), Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet), Sidney Lunt (Casey Rede), and Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado)
  • (L to R): Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon) and Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes)
  • (L to R): Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon) and Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet)
  • (L to R): Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado) and Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes)
  • (L to R): Reverend Jonathan Larance (Shaun Hadfield) and Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes)
  • (L to R): Sidney Lunt (Casey Rede) and Reverend Jonathan Larance (Shaun Hadfield)
  • (L to R): Reverend Jonathan Larance (Shaun Hadfield) and Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes)
  • (L to R): Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon), Sidney Lunt (Casey Rede), Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet) and Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado)
  • (L to R): Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado), Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon), Sidney Lunt (Casey Rede) and Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet)
  • (L to R): Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes) and Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado)
  • (L to R): Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes), Jonsey Whitman (Nathaniel Harper) and Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet)
  • (L to R): Sidney Lunt (Casey Rede), and Kandall Kingsley (Kathi-Jane Alvarado)
  • (L to R): Jonsey Whitman (Nathaniel Harper) and Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon)
  • (L to R): Jonsey Whitman (Nathaniel Harper) and Floral Whitman (McKensi Karnes)
  • (L to R): Pandora Kingsley (Abigail Bennet), Jonsey Whitman (Nathaniel Harper) and Edvard Lunt (Sam Damon)

Jan 30-Feb 15, 2015

FRI JAN 30,6,13 | 8:00 PM
SAT FEB 1,7,14 | 8:00 PM
SUN FEB 8, 15 | 2:30 PM
THRS FEB 12 | 7:00 PM

Description

Dedicated to the memory of Dale Pawley

Just in case marriage is not sufficiently challenging, add a generational age span, an asexual partner, a love which crosses religious boundaries and life which invades and destroys southern proprieties and you have IMPOSSIBLE situations. Welcome to real life in all its complexities, realities, tragedies and hopefulness. Just don't expect to be undisturbed in life's socially accepted rut! While the playwright Beth Henley, has taken tragedy and imbued it with comedy in Crimes of the Heart, she has written a mirror image in Impossible Marriage. The challenge for us as actors and director is to find life's truth in its peculiarities.

The entire action of the play takes place in Kandall Kingsley's beautiful and mysterious garden. Kandall's youngest daughter, Pandora, is to be wed to Edvard Lunt, a worldly artist twice her age. Kandall does not think the match to be at all suitable. Flora, Pandora's older sister, who is expecting a child at any moment, plots to break off the marriage. Unexpectedly, Sidney Lunt, the groom's son, arrives with a note from his mother in which she vows to throw herself from an attic window if the marriage goes forward. Even Reverend Lawrence who has come to wed the couple has secret hopes and desperate desires. Throughout this wildly funny and moving play the characters struggle heroically with the impossibility of finding an allegiance between their civilized duties and primitive desires.

Director's Note

Dedicated to the memory of Dale Pawley

Credits

Edvard Lunt
Floral Whitman
Jonsey Whitman
Kendall Kingsley
Pandora Kingsley
Reverend Jonathan Larance
Sidney Lunt
Directer
Producer
Scenic And Lighting Designer
Stage Manager
Written By

Reviews

Henley's 'Marriage' impossible to miss
- By Marissa Bond , Las Cruces Bulletin

Opening night of "Impossible Marriage" was uncharacteristically wet and chilly outside the Black Box Theatre, but the stage was vivid with a southern spring.

A stunning mural of a lush garden patched with a winding bed of bright tulips, painted by Dia Taylor, dominates the wall, and an arbor tangled with roses anchors our thoughts immediately to matrimony. Visually, the play is potently cohesive - the bright colors of the mural and the set are echoed in the costumes of the Georgia southerners. Autumn Gieb did an excellent job representing the southern sartorial preferences and contrasting them with the heavy tweeds and somber browns for the unspecifically urban Edvard and Sydney Lundt.

The 1998 play by Beth Harvey maypoles around the central event of a wedding between young, whimsical Pandora Kingsley and older, venerated writer Edvard Lundt. More than the age disparity, he has a reputation as a drunkard, a philanderer and, most shockingly, has been known to wear a ponytail. "His character's not important," Pandora said. "He's an artist." Besides, Pandora explains, she has to marry him - after all, he left his wife of 23 years and their children to marry her.

Edvard's wife did not take this well, and has sent her son - clinical, distant Sydney - to deliver an ominous note to Edvard threatening suicide if he follows through with the marriage. Sidney, in turn, threatens that he and all his siblings will follow his mother in death.

Edvard's former wife and children are not the only ones upset by the match. Pandora's mother, the widowed Kandall Kingsley, hides her disapproval behind the indomitable structure of hospitality, but it reveals itself through unshuttered windows. Pandora's sister, Floral Whitman, is violently vocal in her objections. She has her own reasons to be cynical about marriage, however - despite her pregnancy and attentive husband Jonsey, she portrays obvious tensions, made more poignant and strained by her repeated denial of any problems. Even the Reverend is burdened - by secrets, the necessity of being good and the inconsistency he feels between how he is perceived and how he feels himself to be.

Pandora's wedding opens the box of secrets, and while pestilence sweeps forth, so does hope.

For me, the production shone in darkness. Nighttime in the garden was full of revealing tete-atetes interrupted just past the moment of uncomfortable truth. The nighttime, the heat, the flowers and the secrets all reference Shakespeare's Midsummer Night Dream. The capricious characters have a glisten of fey about them, and so when Kendall references toadstools as the homes of fairies, it feels like something of which she has personal knowledge.

In director Nikka Ziemer's hands the play unfurls like a night-blooming flower, fragrant and revelatory in starlight and fairy dust. McKensi Karnes has a truly beautiful voice. I could listen to her read her grocery lists. As Floral Whitman, her southern accent was melodious and her frustration palpable. She embodies the struggle between the primitive and the civilized, capping it with deadpan delivery and great comedic timing. As the scandal obsessed matriarch Kandall Kingsley, Kathi-Jane Alvarado is dignified and elegant. Where her character could have been strident, Alvarado makes her sympathetic and compelling. As Sidney Lundt, C.S. Rede, succeeds in playing the most discordant note among the characters. Sidney has no stock in the artifice under which the others conduct their lives, and conveys both discomfort and disappointment in the people and proceedings. Jonsey Whitman, played by Nathanial Harper, nails southern good-ol-boy cadence and delivery - charming, friendly and as full of promise and disappointment as a summer puddle. Abigail Bennett, as Pandora Kingsley, flips back and forth between the emotional extremes demanded of her character, pausing briefly midway in moments of unexpected frankness to let us know that her caricature is deliberate and all that she feels afforded to her childlike charms. Shaun Hadfield, recently the director of the Black Box Theatre's "Moonlight in Magnolias," plays Reverend Jonathan Larence, man of secrets and desires but, in Hadfield's earnest portrayal, never leaving us questioning his basic good nature. Meanwhile, Sam Damon is appropriately effusive and grandiose as artist Edvard Lundt, and the complicated and formal language of the play sits comfortably in his mouth.

The production is dedicated to Dale Pawley, a beloved staple of the theatre community - an actor, director, and supporter - who had been slated to direct this play before passing away unexpectedly a few months ago.

"Impossible Marriage" runs through Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12. Tickets are $12 regular admission, $10 for students and seniors; all seats on Thursday are $8. For more information or to make reservations, call the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223.

Marissa Bond can be reached at 680-1845 or marissa@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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