Thursday, July 23, 2015

Peter Pan


Jenn Colella as Peter Pan and Maria Briggs as Jane take to the skies
as Jennifer Hope Wills as Old Wendy watches in “Peter Pan,”
produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion
through Sunday. Charr Crail/Courtesy photo

With a little magic, a lot of fairy dust and some really strong overhead wires, “Peter Pan” bursts through the nursery window of the Wells Fargo Pavilion to thrill children and adults in this week’s first-rate Music Circus production of the J.M. Barrie classic.

The Tony Award-winning 1998 version, which also was made into an A&E TV special, is directed by Glenn Casale, with delightful choreography by Patti Colombo and additional flying-sequence choreography by Paul Rubin.

Three of the actors in this Music Circus production also were part of the A&E production — Paul Schoeffler (Mr. Darling/Captain Hook), Michael Nostrand (Smee) and Kim Arnett, a member of the ensemble.

Jenn Colella, recently co-starring with Idina Menzel on Broadway in “If/Then,” is an energetic Peter Pan — brash, physical, petulant, endearing. She has the swagger of a young boy, and flies through the air with the greatest of ease, sprinkling fairy dust in her wake.

The Darling children, who fly with Peter to Neverland, are Aidan Winn as John, Joshua Davis as Michael and Lori Eve Marinacci as Wendy. Winn is adorable, clutching his teddy bear in his footed jammies. Davis has a Harry Potter-ish appearance with his big glasses. Marinacci is a warm and caring Wendy, ready to be mother to the lost boys of Neverland, until she realizes that she really needs her own mother.

Jennifer Hope Wills is Mrs. Darling, who sings the children a beautiful lullaby (“Tender Shepherd”). Her husband is played by Paul Schoeffler, who also plays Captain Hook.

Schoeffler, who is returning to Music Circus after a long hiatus, has a long performing history with the group. He is simply marvelous, particularly as Hook, roaring orders at everyone, but reduced to a quivering mass of fear when faced with his nemesis, the crocodile, who has already bitten off one hand and wants to come back for the other.

The crocodile (Jake DuPree) is very realistic (and terrifying). DuPree is also the guy inside the Nana the Dog costume back in the nursery and is as believable as a dog as he is as a crocodile.

Michael Nostrand plays Hook’s right-hand man, Smee, the perfect sycophant ready to serve Hook at the drop of a hat.

Colombo’s choreography is outstanding, particularly the dances for the Indians, led by the Indian Princess Tiger Lily (Desiree Davar). Each of the Indian dances was a show-stopper, particularly the somewhat less-than-politically correct “Ugg-a-Wugg.” (Many believe the song employs outdated stereotypes about the American Indian language and culture, both musically and lyrically, and the lyrics were changed for the recent TV special).

Politically correct or not, this drum-infused dance number brought down the house on opening night.
The plot of the frenetic life on Neverland seems to be that the Indians hate the lost boys, as do the pirates, who also hate the Indians. It seems that everyone is chasing everyone at one time or another, though “Ugg-a-Wugg” celebrates a new liaison between Indians and Boys after Peter Pan rescues Tiger Lily from a rock where she was left by the pirates to die.

Suffice to say there is a lot of running and chasing and yelling and the kids in the audience loved it. I personally would have liked the volume of the sound, which can be ear-splitting, be turned down a smidge, but this is a show for the kids, not for grumpy adults.

Special kudos must be given to the ever-efficient Music Circus tech crew, who did yeomen’s duty hauling big set pieces on and off the stage in the dark. Scenic designers Scott Klier and Jamie Kumpf have done a great job particularly in creating the nursery with its overhead shelves lined with toys.

It’s hard to do a bad production of this popular story, and this version by the Music Circus is definitely popular with everyone in the audience, which had a high number of children.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Next to Normal

Andrea Thorpe's character Diana shows her extreme highs and lows in "Next to Normal,"
presented through Aug. 16 by Runaway Stage Productions.
Courtesy photo
 A rock musical that brings mental illness out of the closet is now being presented by Runaway Stage Productions at the West Sacramento Community black-box theater.

For those of us who grew up with musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein or Meredith Willson, there is a certain formulaic expectation in our musicals, which basically were love stories with a bit of conflict thrown in, which was usually resolved by the finale.

Jonathan Larson shattered that illusion when his “Rent” premiered on Broadway; it was a raw rock opera about AIDS and drugs and lots of not very pretty things. It took Broadway by storm. Then came “Spring Awakening” about puberty and suicide, another blockbuster. They opened the door to other musicals that don’t end happily ever after.

Now, along comes “Next to Normal,” a rock musical by Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics), under the direction of Bob Baxter, about bipolar disorder.

The piece began in 1998 as a short sketch about a woman undergoing electroshock therapy and originally was titled “Feeling Electric.” Over the next 10 years it grew and developed and finally opened off-Broadway as “Next to Normal” in 2008 and won the Outer Critics’ Circle award for Outstanding Score and Drama Desk award nominations for Outstanding Actress and Outstanding Score.

After a run in Washington, D.C., it reopened on Broadway in 2009 and was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won three (Best Original Score, Best Orchestration and Best Performance by a Leading Actress). It also became the eighth musical in the history of the Pulitzer Prizes to win a prize for drama.

Mental illness is not pretty and it affects not only the person suffering, but the family as well. Andrea Thorpe (whom Davis Comic Opera Company patrons may remember from her portrayal of Fantine in last year’s “Les Miserables”) plays Diane Goodman, who has suffered from bipolar depression since the death of her son many years ago. This is a tricky role in which the character runs the gamut from confusion to pain to rage, but still must be sympathetic so the audience cares about her. Thorpe carries it off beautifully.

She has a very supportive husband in Dan (Darryl Strohl-DeHerrera), who is willing to help her try many treatments, and try every new medicine that comes along. The emotional toll of Diana’s illness on Dan gradually becomes apparent, as her mood swings begin to wear him down.

Kristina Dizon is perhaps the saddest character, Natalie, the child born after the death of her brother, who has been ignored all of her life and we see how this has affected her. Even her new boyfriend Henry (Tylen Einweck), who doesn’t realize what he is getting into and is very naive in his introduction to mental illness, can’t quite bring happiness to her life.

Outstanding is Michael Roivas as hallucination of the now grown-up dead child, Gabe. His song “I’m Alive” taunts Diane to believe that he is real again.

I am more than memory, I am what might be / 
I am mystery / 
You know me / 
So show me
When I appear it’s not so clear 
if I’m a simple spirit or I’m flesh and blood

Taylor Presnall plays two different therapists with two different approaches to Diane’s problem, neither of whom really seems to understand her problem.

The black-box theater is tiny, making the audience really a part of the family (at one point I considered leaning over and turning off the table lamp that was shining in my eyes!), and with everyone squished in so tightly, moving large set pieces down the narrow aisles is an experience, especially for those sitting on the aisle. But the intimacy adds another dimension to the appreciation of what is happening on stage.

The seven-piece orchestra, under the coordination of keyboardist Deann Golz, is distributed across the two levels of the stage and mostly performs well, except for a couple of spectacular glitches that made the audience jump.

At the conclusion of the play, we have examined everything from electroshock therapy to faulty medication and see the frustration not only for the patient but also for the family. There is a possibility of a happily ever after, but it would take a sequel to know exactly how it all comes out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Grounded


The lights in B Street’s small B3 Season theater go up to reveal Alicia Hunt, The Pilot, in the current production of “Grounded.” She stands tall and proud with eyes shining, because she has just completed a bombing run.

She dares you to take your eyes off of her as she strides around the stage. She exudes confidence and pride that she, a woman, is a Top Gun in the male-dominated Air Force. She is accepted as one of the guys. They go up in their planes, hit their targets and then go to the local bar to drink together, the camaraderie of soldiers in a war.

She revels in her love of “the blue.” She is proud of the “blood and sweat and brains” she has expended in earning her uniform, and she speaks with excitement as she talks of delivering her deadly payloads, “pounding minarets into dust.”

She is a loner, she explains, because men are usually intimidated by her job, but then one night she meets Eric, who is not intimidated. They start seeing more of each other and the inevitable happens: She’s pregnant.

She can’t fly pregnant, and the Air Force grounds her and assigns her to what she calls the “Chair Force,” doing office work. After she marries Eric and gives birth to daughter Samantha, she stays at home to be with the baby for three years.

Eventually, the job of a housewife and stay-at-home mom is no longer enough and she starts yearning for the blue again.

With Eric’s blessing, she returns to her unit, expecting to be reunited with her beloved F-16 fighter plane. But she discovers things have changed. She will no longer be flying a jet over the desert, she will be sitting in an air-conditioned trailer in the Nevada desert piloting a drone flying somewhere in the Middle East, while looking down on her targets and getting orders from a disembodied voice in her ear.

She no longer lives in the blue, but in the “gray” of the drone room. She gets up in the morning, feeds Samantha and takes her to school, then drives an hour to the trailer, works her 12-hour shift blowing up “bad guys” in the desert, then is home in time for dinner and to put Samantha to bed.

There is no more camaraderie and she can’t even share her work with her husband because it’s all top-secret. She no longer feels the power that she felt when flying a plane and under constant threat of death.

The longer she does this job, the more surreal it seems, especially when she discovers that she now sees her targets much too clearly, watching body parts fly into the air as the bombs explode. This brings up a very real question for those of us watching about modern warfare, where kids are just playing video games … but with real lives. It definitely has an effect on our Pilot.

This is a masterful, emotionally charged performance by Hunt, an Equity actress working in Los Angeles and New York, who is a Davis native. She grew up in the Acme Theatre Company, Barnyard Stage, Davis Musical Theatre Company and at other local performing venues.

Director Lyndsay Burch keeps things focused with no lag time in the crisp dialog of The Pilot.

If there is a negative to this production it is the scenic design by Samantha Reno. There is a large cartoon-like sand dune sweeping across the back of the stage, looking somewhat like Donald Trump’s hair, which might have worked well except that video projections are an important part of this story, and they tend to get lost in the busy-ness of the backdrop.

It was a shame to lose so much of that part of the show.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

Larry Raben as Albert Peterson, left, Amanda Jane Cooper as Kim MacAfee, Nathaniel Hackmann as Conrad Birdie, Sainty Nelsen as Ursula Merkle, Kathryn Mowat Murphy (Mayor’s wife) and Steve Geary (Mayor) perform with the company in “Bye Bye Birdie,” produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion through Sunday, July 12. Kevin Graft/Courtesy photo

 In 1957, rock-and-roll idol Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army, sparking a media circus that probably was tame by today’s standards. Millions of teenage girls went into mourning that their idol was going away to serve his country for 18 whole months.

Writers Michael Stewart (book), Charles Strouse (music) and Lee Adams (lyrics), who had been trying to work out the plot for a new musical, took Presley’s induction and ran with it. The musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” now at the Music Circus, was nominated for eight Tony Awards that year, and won four, including the award for Best Musical.

The Music Circus has presented this delightful show four times before, but not since 1999, so it was fun to see it back on stage.

The rock-and-roll hunk, Conrad Birdie in this production, is Nathaniel Hackmann, who bumps and grinds with the best of them, and sings in that Elvis way that knocks girls (and some married women) off their feet. Hackmann is a little more subdued than some Birdies I’ve seen, but he gets his point across.

Conrad is a little short in the smarts department and relies on his agent, Albert Peterson (Larry Raben), to manage his career. This is the role that made Dick Van Dyke a superstar, and while Raben doesn’t have the pizzazz of Van Dyke, his smooth performance and his nimble toes make this a very likable Albert indeed. His “Put on a Happy Face” with Sad Girls Ashley Anderson and Sarah Marie Jenkins was very sweet.

Peterson’s right-hand woman is Rosie Alvarez. Janine DiVita gives a stellar performance. She takes command of the stage from the moment she steps on it and the stage lights up every time she returns. She is simply outstanding.

Rosie has come up with a great plan to make Conrad’s entry into the Army a highlight of his career and suggests that Albert write a song called “One Last Kiss,” which Conrad will sing to one of his millions of teenage fans, picked at random.

Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio, is the lucky girl. Amanda Jane Cooper is amazing. To watch her on stage, you’d think she was a bright-eyed, fresh-faced teenager, totally convincing as one of Conrad’s worshippers. In fact, according to her bio, Cooper is a theater veteran who has a lengthy performing résumé, including playing Glinda in the first touring production of “Wicked.”

Rebecca Baxter is Kim’s mother, a solid performance that would do credit to Beaver Cleaver’s mother. She’s the perfect 1950s housewife, complete with heels and crinoline under her skirt.

I don’t know if he was trying to channel Paul Lynde or not, but Stuart Marland’s performance as Mr. MacAfee was definitely a credit to Lynde, the original Mr. MacAfee. He’s blustery and in awe of his hero, Ed Sullivan, when he learns the family is to be on Sullivan’s show.

Albert’s mother, Mae Peterson, is played by Mary-Pat Green, who is deliciously overbearing and the master of the guilt trip.

Garett Hawe is Kim’s boyfriend, Hugo. The two have just been pinned and Hugo does not take kindly to the idea of Kim being kissed by Conrad. He’s the perfect gawky teen, but he grows up before our eyes as he gradually gets the courage to let everyone know how he feels.

There is an ensemble of teens and townspeople making for fun numbers like “The Telephone Hour” and “One Last Kiss.”

“Bye Bye Birdie” is a show that lends itself easily to adding extras from time to time. A story of a rock idol who needs screaming fans is a great place to use members of the Music Circus junior company, who fill the aisles of the Wells Fargo Pavilion, joining with the chorus, waving Birdie banners, and screaming appropriately. It gave the production the feel of a much bigger show.

This is definitely a high-energy, fun show that evokes a time when life seemed much simpler, though some of the dated references (e.g., the confusion between Mussolini and Rossallini) did not seem to connect with the younger crowd.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Robert Lautz (feature story)

Playwright Robert Lautz is living with prostate cancer.

“I’m terrible,” he laughed when I asked him how he was doing. “It’s terminal, but at least this is a slow-growing cancer.”

Lautz is a longtime Davis resident who moved his family to Minnesota a month ago, where his wife’s family lives, but he was back in town briefly to watch the opening of his new play, “Third Date” at the Wilkerson Theater in Sacramento.

Lautz’s first play, “The Meaning of it All” ran at the Wilkerson in 2012.

“You did a review where you didn’t trash it,” he reminded me. “You encouraged me to keep writing, so that’s why I wrote a second play. It was as a great learning experience as my first play.

“I’ve written a comedy about cancer,” he said “ ‘Fun with mutant cells’ is the alternate title.”

Some may think it’s odd to be writing a comedy about cancer, but Lautz explained that initially, it was a series of notes to keep track of all of his medical records, but so many bizarre things happened during his treatment that he thought it might make a funny play.

And it is.

The show opened two weeks ago, and Lautz was there for the opening.

“I was thrilled,” he said. They had full houses on opening weekend and “the performance just got better and better.” He was most pleased that the audience “got it.” The point had been made.

Lautz stresses that “cancer has some clout. Doctors and nurses make a point of being very courteous and very gracious. You even get valet parking.”

But the play does hit home with doctors.

“My GP who has been my doctor for 20 years came to see it,” the playwright said. “Afterwards he said that ‘Generally we’re in the habit of creating a distance between ourselves and the patients. This reminded me not to do so.’ ”

Director Maggie Adair Upton added that a lot of cancer survivor groups have been attending.

“They either like it or they hate it,” she said, adding that one of her friends saw a preview and had to leave. There had been enough cancer in her life and she had just had enough.

“It’s a tricky show to do, but I think it’s important and I’m glad we are doing it,” Upton said.
“One woman at a talk-back after the show said parts of the play made her squirm,” said Lautz, laughing. He told her his alternate title would have been “Caution: Sections of this play may make you squirm.”

Many of those who were uncomfortable were Lautz’s friends and co-workers from the California Arts Council, where he worked for many years, who felt it was difficult to watch, knowing that these were his own experiences.

“It happened to me. Everything,” he said.

“I’m a musician,” he told me, adding that he played the vibraphone and drums and graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1976, with a degree in composition. In fact, the incidental music before and after the show was composed and performed by Lautz.

He grew up in California, but moved back East with his family for high school and college. Then he decided to return to California.

“I borrowed my father’s car and drove to Santa Cruz,” he said, adding that his father never got the car back.

He became a street musician, playing on the streets and in malls and performing gigs up and down the California coast, whenever he could find work, supporting himself for some 20 years. During that time, he met his wife in a jazz club.

It was after his wife became pregnant that he decided that “this jazz musician thing may not work out financially.”

In 1995, he ended up on the California Arts Council, a move that would bring him to Davis. By this time he had two daughters, ages 4 and 2, and real estate agents took him all over Sacramento looking for a house.

“Then I drove out to Davis, first getting lost on Olive Drive. But we fell in love with the town. It was a great place to raise our daughters,” he said.

Friends in Sacramento warned him that Davis was where the liberals were, “but we came from Santa Cruz!” he added, laughing.

He worked for the Arts Council for eight years “and then the budget went way south” so he worked for another state agency for a while and then returned to the Arts Council, where he continued to work after his 2007 cancer diagnosis until his family’s move to Minnesota.

Lautz said his character, Richard Montauk, is kind of a sexist pig who has a teenaged daughter with whom he has little relationship and a wife from whom he is divorced. Through the course of the play he is very subtly transformed by his experiences.

“A friend said he really didn’t like Montauk, but toward the end he did.”

So Lautz achieved his ultimate goal, and can a playwright ask for more than that?

The show runs 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays through July 4 in the Dennis Wilkerson Theater at California Stage’s R25 Arts Complex. Visit www.calstage.org for information.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big River

It was a surreal experience attending Music Circus’s “Big River” in a week where we are still reeling from the slaughter in Charleston, S.C., which has ignited an active debate over the display of the Confederate flag and the use of the N-word.

“Big River,” with book by William Hauptman and music and lyrics by Roger Miller (who won The Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his work), is a retelling of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” the story of two runaways — Huck Finn, fleeing his cruel father, and Jim, a runaway slave, who travel together and become good friends. The story is set sometime prior to the Civil War. (Twain, who published it in 1884, was vague about the exact date.)

Needless to say, slavery plays a big part in this play and the slave scenes feel emotionally raw, particularly this week. The language, true to the period, is offensive to our ears today. The reaction of the audience, with spontaneous applause when Jim’s chains are removed and he wins his freedom, was, I felt, an indication that the whole audience was feeling the same raw emotion.

This is an outstanding production, with a superb cast. Ben Fankhauser is a bit old to be playing the 13-year-old Huck Finn, but he is a real pro who commands the stage, with a great voice that does particularly well in the ballads and in his duets with Jim (Phillip Boykin).

Boykin is definitely old for the role of Huck’s companion, though the age difference melts away with Jim’s back story of having been separated from his wife and children, and with the paternal role he takes in Huck’s life.

And what a voice! I’m sure the roof must have been vibrating with the power of his delivery in “Muddy Water” and “Free at Last.” Boykin gives Jim a quiet dignity that is at the heart of this show.

Though none of the tunes are familiar, Miller’s music (such a far cry from “King of the Road” and “Dang Me”) in this, his only Broadway musical, runs the gamut from ballad to country to hillbilly to gospel, with the spectacular Jennifer Leigh Warren as the slave Alice raising the roof in the gospel song, “How Blest We Are” to audience cheers.

James Michael Lambert played Tom Sawyer with all the boyish charm and energy that a young boy should have, though his role in this particular Twain story is a small one.

Rich Hebert is Pap Finn, Huck’s deadbeat dad who turns up unexpectedly to take Huck to live with him. Pap is a drunk and his “Guv’ment” railing against the current government is very funny, though he himself is one scary dude, and Huck finds a way to fake his own murder so that he can escape his father’s clutches.

Two delightful characters are the King (William Parry) and the Duke (Jeff Skowron), two shysters who hitch a ride of the raft with Huck and Jim and proceed to slowly re-enslave Jim before selling him back into slavery.

They are such fun to watch and their “The Real Nonesuch” is a delight. Skowron’s Shakespearean monologue (a mash-up of every famous line you remember) is very funny.

A character that seems to exist only to toss in a small role for someone disconnected from the plot of the story is that of the Young Fool, played by Dennis O’Bannion. His “Arkansas” was another high point of this show already full of high points.

While this is primarily a male-driven story, women come in for their share of stage time, with Mary Jo Mecca as the Widow Douglas and Angelina Sark as Miss Watson, the two women determined to tame the wild Huck and give him some manners.

It was so nice to see that Music Circus remembered that it has a turntable, which was used to very good effect, particularly in propelling the raft downstream in a cloud of fog.

This is a real winner for Music Circus and highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Uncanny Valley

“The Jetsons” had Rosie, “Star Wars” had C3PO, “Star Trek” had Mr. Data, “Jeopardy” had Watson and Sacramento’s Capital Stage has Julian.

“Uncanny Valley,” by Thomas Gibbons, directed by Jonathan Williams, is part of the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, in which three or more theaters premiere the same new play within 12 months. “Uncanny Valley” premieres have already been held in Shepherdstown, W.Va.; Philadelphia; and San Diego.

Human beings have long toyed with the possibility of robots who can be our helpmates, our servants and maybe even our friends. The play deals with, but doesn’t quite answer the question of, what it means to be human and explores the futuristic world of non-biological humans who look, move, talk and think like human beings.

On a beautiful set designed by Stephen C. Jones that is both modern and futuristic at the same time, neuroscientist Claire (Jessica Powell) sits with the head and torso of Julian (Michael Patrick Wiles) who, over a series of short clips, learns how to move his head in a human-like way, speak in a less robotic cadence, raise his eyebrows, smile, etc.

In each clip he is a bit more complete. He gets an arm, then another arm, and finally legs, all while he becomes more “human” and acquires more of a personality, a curiosity about the world, an awareness of self — and a bond with Claire.

Ultimately, Claire lets Julian know that he has been created for a specific purpose. A wealthy, dying man has paid more than $200 million to develop a being into which can be uploaded all his memories, his characteristics, his DNA, so that he can live on after his physical death.

He has requested a body that resembles himself at age 34, the age at which he felt he was at his physical best. Problems arrive, following the original Julian’s death, with his biological son, age 44, who can’t accept the new Julian as his father.

The plot was inspired by an experiment in Russia where a multi-millionaire, Dimitry Itskov, is having a cyborg created that is basically identical to him, with the hopes that he will live hundreds of years after his death.

The term “uncanny valley” describes “the emotional responses humans have toward robots,” writes literary manager Stephanie Tucker. “… As robots become more human-like, humans feel increasingly empathetic toward them — up to a point. When robots become too lifelike, they seem ‘uncanny,’ and most humans grow increasingly anxious and repelled by them.”

While this is a thoroughly enjoyable play, there are certain parts of it that are “off.” With all of our experience with robots in movies and on television, it is easy to believe that such a being could be created and that it could be used to duplicate a living person so that he could live a longer life.

What is not believable is Claire’s relationship with Julian. We learn that he is not her first such creation and so it makes unbelievable her growing parental attraction to him, and her obvious pain at the thought of releasing him to have the download completed, knowing she will not see him again.

It is a flaw in the writing that seems strange as she begins to treat Julian as a real person, then uncharacteristically reveals much of her unhappy personal life to him, without such incidents ever having any sort of resolution (or even explanation) for the audience, though they are of huge importance to Claire.

Later, when Julian interferes with her life, it is ironic that she becomes angry: “What gives you the right to interfere in anyone’s life …” She later goes on to remind him that he’s “not a person at all.”

And there it is — she has worked long and hard to make him as lifelike as possible, to make him ready to take on the life of her rich employer, and now that she has succeeded so beautifully, she questions whether it was a good idea and whether she has, instead, created some sort of benign monster.

Wiles gives a wonderful performance as Julian, his slow advancement to humanoid believable and his completed self, returning to visit Claire, with just a hint of malice that the original Julian may have left out of the information gathered to pass along to his robot counterpart.

Watching him walk around the stage as the blended Julian, the actor makes it clear that there is a part of the old Julian slowly blending with the new Julian.

As for Powell, she starts as the ultimate professional and by the end of the play she is hardly recognizable as the person she was at the beginning, having been overcome by the problems in her personal life and her relationship with Julian.

But the ending is unsatisfactory. Perhaps the playwright designed it that way so that we would all go home discussing the play. There certainly was a lot of discussion among the audience on the way out of the theater.