Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Book of Days
Saint Joan, gourmet cheese and murder seem to be an odd combination. However, all three are running themes in Lanford Wilson's play, Book of Days. Now at Arena Stage, Book of Days focuses on the fictional Dublin, Missouri and its small-town sensibilities.
Arena's presentation of this play is quite interesting. The stage itself looks like a miniature town made up of dollhouses. Designed by Michael Brown, the miniatures give the set a unique look. These pieces are also utilitarian. The houses are pushed and pulled into place by the actors and are even transformed into pieces of furniture at times.
The play itself is quite engrossing despite the fact that the plotline is highly predictable. The old "you can't judge a book by its cover" premise has been done before. However, the parallels drawn with Saint Joan do provide a compelling angle.
Jennifer Mudge is riveting as the determined Ruth, and the role really allows her to show off her range. As Ruth's husband Len, Brian Keane is endearing. He is able to capture the sensitivity of the character without neglecting his more aggressive side. Linda Stephens plays Martha, Len's mother. Her portrayal of the freewheeling former hippie is superb. Helen Hayes Award nominee, Susan Lynsky (The Laramie Project), once again shows her versatility with a spirited portrayal of the saucy Ginger Reed. Finally, television veteran Mark Pinter is perfect as the slightly questionable director.
Book of Days reveals that when you scratch beneath the surface, what lies beneath can sometimes be ugly. However, it also proves that as a society, we are eager to find what is hidden. Book of Days runs at Arena Stage through March 30th.
Arena Stage - The Fichandler Theatre
Jefferson Breland: Earl