Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Throughout history, the search for the meaning of life has been a constant pursuit. In Round House Theatre's one-woman show, Mystery School, playwright Paul Selig explores this quest through the voices of five compelling women. Although dissimilar in personality and situation, they share a common mission - the search for spiritual enlightenment.
Selig gives life to this colorful group of women through a series of five different monologues. From the judgmental, fundamentalist motel housekeeper to the quirky yet motivating psychiatrist, each character reveals their spiritual search, at times exposing their own individual truths.
Mystery School is a complex piece. Thought provoking yet humorous, Selig's work encourages one to examine their own personal belief system just as Selig's characters do. This self-examination is a considerable step to take for these ladies. At times, it is a step taken with fear. But it is also taken with passion and humor.
Jane Beard, a long-standing DC area favorite, is outstanding in her portrayal of each of these eclectic women. Ms. Beard's performance is seamless, slipping in and out of character as easily as one would an old, familiar sweater. She embodies each character so successfully that one forgets that there is only a single actor on stage.
The space at the Round House is perfect for this play. Director, Jerry Whiddon skillfully uses the intimacy of the theater to draw the audience into the piece's spiritual musings. Rosemary Pardee's costumes work well for each character. Each article of clothing helps to define the very strong personalities being portrayed. The set and lighting design by Jos. B. Musumeci, Jr. are also very effective. The use of different styles of chairs for each of the women accentuates each individual character trait.
At one hour and ten minutes, Mystery School is a relatively short play. However, this small gem is illuminating, leaving you to pondering the mysteries of life with a smile on your face. Sadly, Mystery School will not stay in session long. This production is a limited engagement that runs through May 13th. So reserve your seat now and don't miss your opportunity to attend Mystery School.
Round House Theatre