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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 26, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 09
Scaling the heights of love and forgiveness in Annapurna
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Scaling the heights of love and forgiveness in Annapurna

ANNAPURNA
THEATRE22
(AT 12TH AVE ARTS)
Through March 12


The famous idea that 'life is a journey' exists for a reason. In Theatre22's production of Annapurna we witness the cumulative path of tragic choices to attain a universal love. We saw this also in Seattle Rep's recent excellent production of Constellations, where the varied paths to happiness exist between two lovers through several mystic, cosmic incarnations. In both productions, we learn the respective paths we choose determine the destination we deserve.

Annapurna playwright Sharr White's deft script is perfect for the seasoned talents of its cast. John Q. Smith (August: Osage County) is a forlorn, bedraggled and emphysema-ridden Ulysses and Teri Lazzara's Emma, is a woman with a lifelong gift for eternal forgiveness. As an ex-professor, Ulysses is a poet who lives in a cluttered camper with a scrappy dog in the mountains (set in small Paonia, Colorado) in a sort of self-purgatory. Although living at a great atmospheric height, his lonely existence is at a deep low. Is it a home at peace high up in the clouds or is he gasping for air (quite literally)? Smith's immersive portrayal of Ulysses is mesmerizing.

After 20 years, Ulysses receives a surprise visit from his ex-wife, Emma. (Lazzara delivers a sharp and smart performance.) She quickly wants to tidy up his filthy, book-strewn camper and stock it with food and flowers while Ulysses shuffles and mopes around in worn clothes and an oxygen tank strapped to his back in a bag.

A past tragedy involving their son overshadows Emma's visit. His possible visit looms over the story like snarling wolves at the door. Also looming over them is the imposing mountain in the background, not the actual fabled Annapurna mountain in the Himalayas, but a mountain where Ulysses, as he tells Emma, observes hopeful climbers ascend and even fall. Their conversational intensity in that bucolic mountain setting reaches visceral peaks and valleys such that you cannot keep your gaze off the characters.

Annapurna examines the tragic American journey of regrets and salvation. I can see this fitting in quite well with ArtsWest's current season of the American pursuit of happiness. White's play can also quite easily rank amongst the works of Sam Shepard or Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman is coming to ArtsWest later this season).

Julie Beckman directs a mesmeric and superb production about the unending faith of commitment and love in the dark face of mortality. Annapurna delivers on many plateaus; joy, humor, disgust, and grace.



Theatre22's production of Annapurna runs Thurs-Saturday through 3/12 at 8pm, Tues 3/8 at 8pm, Sundays, 2/28 & 3/6 at 2pm a 12th Ave Arts (1620 12th Ave.) For more information, visit www.theatre22.org.

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Scaling the heights of love and forgiveness in Annapurna
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