Cussing at the Moon grim yet lovely
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Cussing at the Moon grim yet lovely
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Cussing at the Moon
Nebunele Theatre (at Odd Duck)
Through May 10


Sometimes expectations are exceeded, even if expectations are high. Cussing at the Moon, an ensemble-created production by Nebunele Theatre (yes, a strange name), and a "homeless" company to boot, exceeds expectation. Their production of Medea Knows Best, an odd updating of the Greek story to 1950s television, was a bit uneven, but crisply performed and interestingly set. Working on trusting an intermittently producing company is a bit risky, but I'm beginning to feel a great deal of trust for these folks.

First, the topic is quintessentially Seattle: a woman jumps off the Aurora Bridge. There have been a few news stories about people doing that in recent years, and one in particular where people were actually yelling at the woman to jump! These are troubled people. This character survives, though she is in a coma for most of the play. It sounds pretty grim, but Nebunele has woven in a comfortable amount of funny and sweet moments, as well. Part of how that is done is to allow the comatose woman to be out of body and interacting on a cosmic scale, trying to find God, and sometimes bumping into her sisters, who sit beside her hospital bed for days on end.

Brynna Jourden plays May, the jumper, with a strong combination of bewilderment, exhaustion, insistence and physicality. A nice touch is when the comatose patient is moved (which is mimed, since the actual body is not on the bed), and Jourden has to essentially dance the movements made to her sleeping body. A tooth-brushing sequence is particularly funny and touching.

Alissa Mortenson and Claytie Mason play Cora and Lily, May's sisters who have shown up to be by her side. A bit stereotypically, they don't get along well, and we all pretty much know that they will at the end. But why they don't get along and how they reconcile is really the point. Choices of dialogue are sharp, to the point, and interesting.

Devin Bannon is the male nurse who takes care of May, and is gentle and kind and supportive (nurses should be very proud of his portrayal of their jobs). May seems to fall in love with him in her coma, and both sisters also respond to his care. Nicely, he does not "hook up" with any of them. We also learn something about comas, consequences of falls from high places, and the healing process. And maybe even a bit about why people feel the need to commit suicide.

The set design is uncredited, but they've done a very nice job at Odd Duck Studios, creating a hospital space and a not-quite-hospital space to live in. Joy Brooke Fairfield, as director, keeps everything humming smartly along, and the play keeps on the positive edge of morbidity, which helps the audience go along for the ride with little discomfort. It's about 90 minutes straight through, and they have an unusual performance time of Sunday evening at 8 p.m. for those whose Fridays and Saturdays are typically full. This is a lovely play, and it gets an unqualified "go see it." Let me know if you agree! For more information, go to nebunele.com or www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.

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