• THEATRE REVIEW

      A woman on stage in a forest setting

      Keliher Walsh (Photo – Brian Hashimoto)

      IAMA Theatre Company members from the Los Angeles-based ensemble joined the team at Boston Court in Pasadena for a deeply moving, universally relatable tale of a road trip planned by a long-married California couple in their mid-fifties.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      Anne, a poet and a teacher (IAMA ensemble member Keliher Walsh) and David, a professor (Jonathan Nichols-Navarro) have an ultimate destination of St. Paul, planning to arrive in time for the birth of their first grandchild. Daughter Katie and son-in-law Wolf (IAMA members Sonal Shah and Ryan W. Garcia) are concerned and skeptical about Anne and David’s old-fashioned sightseeing trip in their “camper van,” using only paper maps to find the wonders of the country.

      The opening scene with Anne waxing poetic over memories of the lime tree in her childhood home, which evokes beautiful memories but also exposes the cruel twist that she is struggling with communication and memory. One of the most poignantly expressed struggles is when she is trying to remember the word “skewer,” which she has in her hand, and David is happy to help her remember but wants to let her brain fight for it. The doctor assured her it is not Alzheimer’s but the gaps in her memory and her frustrated struggles to fill them set the tone that underlies their adventure. Shah and Garcia brilliantly and seamlessly portray a number of other characters who make short but crucial (and quirky and entertaining) appearances in the adventure (sometimes a mystical character, sometimes a tough-talking park ranger a traveler, or a doctor).

      One of the most dramatic characters played by Shah is an impassioned park ranger at Utah’s Fishlake National Forest, who informs the travelers about the disintegrating Pando aspen clone, the “forest of one tree” (the singular root system supports tens of thousands of genetically identical trees over 100 acres), known as the “Whispering Giant.” The ranger also laments that the remaining 25 glaciers are all expected to melt by 2030.

      The set was brilliantly designed to imitate the Pando Forest, and you will hear it whispering. Lights, projections, and sounds dramatically repurpose the Pando to represent other locations in the adventure. Running parallel with Anne’s creeping loss of words and memories are examples of the earth suffering a similar process. The various characters they meet on their journey encourage them to go off the grid and visit places other than those mentioned in every USA guidebook ever printed. Sadly, some of those are disappearing as well. In a really heart wrenching scene, Anne goes to see her childhood home and finds that her happy memories relate to a place that no longer exists, and the memories may disappear as well.

      David is dedicated to loving, supporting, and creating good times for Anne to the extent possible, but one scene where he exercises his own self care is particularly traumatic and underscores the fact that the passage of time, the shifting of focus, the hard slap of reality will be a struggle from this point on. One solid reality running throughout the couple’s adventure is that they will each be there for the other when needed, 100%. Their love and light-hearted teasing throughout may make those without such a bond envious, and possibly inspired for their own lives. The family’s love and sense of humor share equal stage presence with their hard truths.

      a composite of photos from a play

      The Body’s Midnight (Photos – Brian Hashimoto)

      The Body’s Midnight
      Written by Tira Palmquist
      Directed by Jessica Kubzansky
      Starring Ryan W. Garcia, Jonathan Nichols-Navarro, Sonal Shah, Keliher Walsh
      Presented by IAMA Theatre Company, Stefanie Black, artistic director and Boston Court Pasadena, Jessica Kubzansky, artistic director
      Thursday 5/23 8:00 pm
      Fridays 5/10,17,24 8:00 pm
      Saturdays 5/11,18,25 8:00 pm
      Sundays 5/5,12,19,26 2:00 pm
      Monday 5/6,20 8:00 pm
      Boston Court Pasadena
      70 N Mentor Ave.
      Pasadena, CA 91106
      Free parking in lot behind theater or on the street
      Tickets
      From $22 to $65 including fees.
      Pay What You Choose on Monday, May 6 and Monday, May 13
      bostoncourtpasadena.org
      (626) 683-680

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