Regional Reviews: San Francisco
David Rambo's The Ice-Breaker
The Ice-Breaker is set to open in several regional theatres in Arizona, Massachusetts, and later next year at the Laguna Playhouse. At present, this appears to be a work in progress since the company is maintaining a website asking for opinions about the two-character drama about science, love, insanity and global politics. Following in the footsteps of such plays as Arcadia, Proof and Copenhagen, the audience is treated to mathematical theories and an awkward romance between an older man and a young student.
The Ice-Breaker is a presentation of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Initiative and the plot centers around young PhD student Sonia (Blake Lindsley) and disgraced genius Lawrence (Charles Shaw Robinson), who is now living a lonely life in the New Mexico desert. The scientist was a pioneer in polar climate studies, working in Greenland and Antarctica for many years studying the gases trapped within layers of prehistoric ice. He is a victim of political backstabbing and has now retreated from the scientific community.
At the beginning of the two-hour drama the audience sees Sonia wearing a snow outfit against the backdrop of a hanging white sheet in the shape of an iceberg, finding a small worn journal written by Lawrence many years ago to his infant daughter. She is determined to find this elusive man who has disappeared from the public for twelve years since she has written a thesis about paleoclimatology and global warming.
Sonia finds Lawrence living a solitary life in a cluttered New Mexican desert abode. The dishonored scientist is hiding from his former life, which included a failed marriage and the death of his nine-month-old daughter. He now teaches Anasazi culture at a junior college. He no longer has an interest in polar ice caps melting due to global warming.
After long discussions about global warming, archaeology and ice age cycles, romance blooms between the older man and the young student. The romance starts very slowly and somewhat clumsily as they discuss their past lives, the culture of the vanished Anasazi, and scientific theories. Both have studied the topics with similar methods but they have drawn different conclusions in their research. The older man theorizes on the past while Sonia applies her research to the future.
The Ice Breaker's first act needs to be tightened as a lot of the dialogue pertains to a lecture on global warming and speeches that sound like a television play. However, the second act is energy and emotionally driven due to the splendid acting of Blake Lindsley and Charles Robinson Shaw.
Lindsley (Pasadena Playhouse actress plus many films) is vivacious as the chatty Sonia who might have taken Ritalin when she was a teenager. Sometimes her speech patterns are as rapid as machine gun fire. Shaw (The Goat at ACT) is the exact opposite as he slowly speaks each line. He is outstanding as a scientist who wishes to be left alone with his personal problems.
The Ice Breaker will be running in repertory with the other two productions in the Hot House Series of world premiere plays through April 9 at the Magic Theatre, Landmark Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco. For tickets please call 415-441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org.