My second dip into the Keegan Theatre Company proves that they have a wonderful facility that creates an intimate and comfortable theater experience, AND that acting in a play is not easy. Another set of uneven performances with a couple of really lovely exceptions and one rather lack luster lead.
The play is set in the early 1970's on a small island north of Seattle. It's well written and the plot holds a surprise or two. The setting is a bed and breakfast run by a mother daughter duo that just happen to take in battered women who somehow find their way to their shelter. The mother Agnus is a no-none-sense sort of every-mother, and Penny, her 16-year-old daughter is in the midst of her transformation from a brainiak whiz-kids with visions of Yale to a cool girl virgin-no-more. In the opening moments a new arrival comes into their shelter, Mary Ann, who is physically bloodied up and has a hard time telling the truth. Add to this a somewhat lost guest from San Francisco named Paul who's life has just taken a turn south and a quirky radical lesbian feminist wanna-be handy-womyn named Hannah and you have the characters who populate this interesting story.
What you don't have is a lead actor in Sheri Herren (Agnes) who can convincingly sustain the role of flawed mother superior. So many of her lines were just recitations of memorized words with about every 5 or 8 one sounding real and believable. And it wasn't that the other lines where horrible...not at all. Just not cohesive in terms of a life being presented on stage that was at least interesting. The polar opposite of this was the performance of Nora Achrati (Hannah), who was damned good! Everytime she spoke, it was completely compelling, funny, poignant, and consistent. It was the standout performance of the play. Likewise Theo Hadjimichael (Paul) was true to his character's neurosis and hopelessly lost and kind heart. Kaylynn Creighton (Penny) really grew on me as the story progressed and by midway through the first act, once she was no longer just playing off of Agnes, she really blossomed--which was at the very least mirroring the flowering of her character's own life. And Jenna Berk (Mary Ann) had some moments of interest, but once she established the limits of her range in portraying the complex emotional roller coaster that was her character, I lost interest in her "acting". Perhaps I just expect too much for $45.00 bucks. Although only a bare few around me stood for the closing applause.