Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
In one lazy summer's evening, a young man's life changed forever. In his short life, the 17 year-old knew only the comforts of his suburban world. One fateful ride in his old, second-hand car changed all that. The recently purchased car with its AM radio and promise of freedom became an instrument of death that day when the young man accidentally killed his 9 year-old sister.
This tragic occurrence comes from the imagination of Adam Rapp. In Studio Theatre's latest offering, titled Nocturne, Mr. Rapp relates his story through the words of a character he calls "The Son/Narrator." The character reveals a portrait of a young man who had been living an almost "Ozzie and Harriet" existence up until the death of his sister. What follows is the destruction of his family and his subsequent move to New York where he takes a job as a bookstore employee and eventually writes a book.
Nocturne has some very compelling moments. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between. Many of the more powerful instances get lost in the wordy script. Even with the occasional appearance of four other characters, this piece feels like a rather dry two and a half hour monologue.
The direction by Keith Alan Baker and Marcia Churchill is plodding at best. However, the set design by Giorgos Tsappas, which is quite minimal, works well for the intimate piece.
Scott Fortier as The Son/Narrator makes an admirable effort at punching up the dialogue that seems to drag at times. However, his tone is sometimes confusing, leaving one to wonder if he is actually relating a tale of self-acceptance or if he is just letting the audience in on a joke. Mr. Fortier does quite well with the moments that are intentionally funny. He is also very successful in creating a connection between himself and his fellow cast members.
There are two particular standouts in this cast. Studio veteran Tim Rice, as The Son's distraught father, is wonderfully subtle as he portrays his conflict between mourning the loss of his daughter and loving the person who caused that loss. Brianna Parsonnet never utters a word as the much loved little sister. However, this young actress has captured the essence of the character and succeeds in capturing the spotlight during her brief moments on stage.
Nocturne is an ambitious play. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite hit its stride. Nocturne is playing in the Studio's SecondStage through August 4th.
The Studio Theatre
The Son/Narrator: Scott Fortier