Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Breadcrumbs is about Alida (Barbara Redmond) and Beth (Brittany Proia), who comes to administer some mental acuity tests and becomes more and more involved as caretaker/helper. The scenes between these two women are nicely drawn. We see Alida slowly losing ground while Beth is perhaps gaining emotional strength regarding her constantly shifting boyfriends. About halfway through the play Jennifer Haley begins to add another layer, revealing the story of Alida's childhood in alternating scenes. I believe that the playwright intends there to be an arc between these two periods of Alida's life but it doesn't ring true. At this point the play becomes severely compromised.
Directed by Brendan Regan, Co-Artistic Director of Urbanite Theatre, both actresses give fine performances. Ms. Redmond is well known in this area as head of the acting department at Asolo Conservatory, so her nuanced performance where less is almost always more is expected. Ms. Proia is far more successful as Beth than as the mother, probably because the mother/younger Alida scenes are so problematic.
The production is not Urbanite's strongest work. The scenic design by John C. Reynolds is generic, serviceable but not strongly defining. Costumes by Becky Leigh are effective with a limited pallete. Lighting design by Ryan Finzelber is possibly the strongest element, with striking projections of a dark, off-putting forest on the auditorium walls, illuminating the Gretel (sans Hansel) story that weaves throughout much of the present and a little into the childhood trauma past, as little Alida feels the lack of control her mother is able to bring to their lives.
At the same time I saw Breadcrumbs I have been slowly making my way through Lisa Genova's harrowing "Still Alice," a novel about a deeper and deeper decent into Alzheimer's which is narrated in the first person. Breadcrumbs becomes an interesting sidebar to the far superior novel. Still, acting on this level is reason enough to see this production.
Urbanite Theatre presentsBreadcrumbs through September 18, 2016, at 1487 2nd St. Sarasota. Visit www.urbanitetheatre.com for more information.
Co-Artistic Directors: Summer Dawn Wallace And Brendan Regan