Regional Reviews: Seattle
The Cider House Rules-Part Two Offers
Because of the more ambitious scope of Part Two (which largely takes place outside the walls of St. Cloud Orphanage where the original is mainly set), there are additional actors to take on the new characters, and they join the worthy original company. After a quick recap of what went on in Part One at the top of the show, we pick up with hero Homer Wells as he is making a life for himself at the apple orchard run by his friend Wally's family. As Wally goes off to World War II, Homer and Wally's girlfriend Candy take their friendship to another level and end up with a young son whom they name Angel, but just on the heels of returning to raise him at the Orchard, word comes that Wally, thought shot down in the war, is alive, though crippled. Homer and Candy resolve to raise their son in the guise of an orphan child that Homer has adopted, and Candy remains loyal to her now more dependent fiancé though always in love with Homer.
Meanwhile, back at St. Clouds, Dr. Larch grows older and older and longs for Homer to fill his shoes as the man who births children and terminates unwanted pregnancies, which remains a violation of Homer's principles and ideals. Homer's friendly adversary Melony cannot shake her obsession with Homer entirely but finds love with a female partner, and in the end of her days, a poetic resolution with Homer. Angel grows to adolescence still unaware of his true parentage, and into a relationship with lovely but troubled Rose Rose, daughter of the rough hewn migrant boss Mr. Rose. Ultimately, all the plot strands find satisfying resolutions, however bittersweet, and Homer faces his destiny back at St. Clouds as Dr. Larch passes.
What might be unwieldy storytelling is adroitly handled and sublimely, nearly magically staged by director Jones and her stellar cast. Connor Toms develops Homer into an admirably complex but heroic central character, Peter Crook etches Dr. Larch's slow but inevitable decline movingly, and Terri Weagant's Melony evolves into perhaps the most compelling character in the tale. Richard Sloniker shows the pain of Wally's facing his crippled status and realization of the triangle he shares with best friend Homer and wife Candy, and Emily Grogan keeps the ambiguous character of Candy appealing and sympathetic. Laura Kenny, Melinda Deane, Julie Jamieson and Jon Lutyens are stalwart holdovers, while Allison Strickland is a luminous Rose Rose, and Marcel Davis creates a subtle menace as her father.
You should see both parts of The Cider House Rules, in tandem or separately, though seeing one or the other shouldn't deter from appreciating either, and is vastly preferable to missing the production, Book-It's best, altogether.
The Cider House Rules runs at Book-It Repertory Theatre (Seattle Center House), 305 Harrison St., through October 16. For tickets or information contact the Book-It box office at 206-216-0833 or visit them online at www.book-it.org.
See the list of this season's theatre offerings in the Seattle area.- David Edward Hughes