Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Perilous Night" at nimbus theater

In Perilous Night, a play by local playwright Lee Blessing currently receiving it's world premiere at nimbus theater, HRH Queen Elizabeth III returns from the future. Of course she's not really a queen, but rather a delusional wealthy woman whose family has placed her in a mental hospital. It's a strange and disturbing little play, featuring not just mental illness but also racism, violence, needlepoint, and castration. I'm not quite sure what to think or write about it, but it's definitely thought-provoking and not boring!

The highlight of the play is Shirley Venard, who is a delight as the regal but addled Elizabeth, intent on her strange needlework. Also entertaining is Dana Lee Thompson as fellow mental hospital patient Harriet, who opens the show with a long monologue while Elizabeth ignores her. Harriet's particular delusion is that she believes the world was perfect and everyone was happy, until the day that she was born. Elizabeth and Harriet discuss the world and the differences between the present, future, and idealized past, while Harriet waits to escape. A couple of guards, Harriet's "boyfriend" (Ross Destiche) and his racist violent friend (Kevin Carnahan) facilitate the escape, but of course things don't go as planned. Elizabeth intervenes on behalf of her new friend; she's not as meek as she seems.

The cast does a good job with the material as directed by Artistic Director Liz Neerland, and the set (designed by the other Artistic Director Josh Cragun) is a perfect setting, with it's tile floor and metal bed frame in sterile hospital style, but I found the play to be a bit odd and perplexing. Perilous Night runs through October 6; go see for yourself.

Shirley Venard as the deluded Queen, intent on
her needlework (yes that's blood on her hand)