Absorbing Family Drama Reveals the Underbelly of Small-Town Life

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater

Part of the National New Play Network, Apple Season has productions in theatres across the country.  Presumably, each resident theatre will have the opportunity to put its own stamp on the play.  I’m glad I caught this well-realized production from Moving Arts, written by a new, burgeoning playwright, whose How the Light Gets In will be seen at Theatre at Boston Court in the fall.

Here at Moving Arts, director Darin Anthony helms a three-person cast that features the redoubtable Rob Nagle as Billy Rezz, a former basketball star, now a reclusive farmer who comes to make an offer on the Apple Orchard next door after the patriarch passes on.  His offer stirs old wounds for sister, Lizzy (Lisa Hernandez), as memories conjure her unseen brother, Roger (Justin Huen), ultimately leading to an explosive conflagration.

Artistic Director Anthony has overseen a triumphant production on the tiny Moving Arts stage in Atwater Village.  Scenic designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz maintains command of color coordination and dimensionality in her rustic evocation of an Oregon back yard. E.M. Lewis’ storytelling demands ever-changing perspectives of inner and outer moments of dream-like recollections, best achieved by Martha Carter’s magical lighting sleight of hand that, among other things, evokes a traveling box-car.  Of course, Warren Davis’ sound is indispensable for this effect. Costuming by Cece Tio defies identification, allowing the characters to flow seamlessly between past and present.

Although production values are impeccable, casting for this play raises questions for me that make it even more intriguing. Brother Roger and sister Lizzie speak Spanish on various occasions, while their character names are decisively gringo.  Obviously Spanish speaking apple growers are completely plausible, but their character names – Roger Eugene and Mary Elizabeth Fogerty – took me a moment to work through.

Apple Season will continue Friday, Saturday and Monday at 8:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday at 4:00 PM through August 5th at Moving Arts, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village 90039. Reservations and tickets online: $24 at www.movingarts.org, or call (323) 472-5646.