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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

Evie's Waltz Will Make You Feel Better
About Your Own Children

Also see Bob's review of The Full Monty

Evie's Waltz
Katie Kenney, Warren Kelley and Andrea Gallo
As the curtain rises on Evie's Waltz, Clay (Warren Kelley) and Gloria (Andrea Gallo) are in the backyard of their suburban home barbecuing while they impatiently await the arrival of their neighbor and friend, Sandy.  On the table for discussion is the involvement of Sandy's daughter Evie in the suspension from school of their 16-year-old son, Danny.  It seems that Evie had passed through metal detectors in the library while carrying a gun that she and Danny had purchased on the Internet with Gloria's credit card.

However, Evie (Kate Kenney) soon arrives in Sandy's place, with a spot of blood on her neck.  She explains that Sandy broke a plate and cut her hand, and that she got bloodied while helping her mother.  If you believe this, you likely will find Evie's Waltz suspenseful and fascinating.

It is quickly revealed that Danny is in a tree high above the backyard patio with a rifle (on occasion, we see the restlessly moving scope of the rifle projected on the stage), taking pot shots at backyard decorations and furniture while Evie warns Clay and Gloria that, if they attempt to escape, Danny will immediately make his brewing decision against their survival.  All the while, Danny and, intermittently, Evie, are electronically "plugged in" and listening to a Strauss waltz.

There are any number of revelations throughout the play.  Suffice it to say that Evie informs us that she has seen Clay diddle her mother Sandy, and that Danny was picked on by other kids and has drawn maps of the school with thoughts of killing his tormentors in mind.  There is no likeable character on stage or off.  Up front, Gloria proclaims that she has abandoned all feeling for her son ("If circumstances change, feelings change with them ... I want to smother him.").  Clay is in relaxed, total denial as to the trouble brewing, and ultimately his conduct is not believable.  Evie is loyal to Danny, but, like him, she is playing with far less than a full deck.  Revelations are arbitrary.  Playwright Carter W. Lewis does have a gift for clever and amusing dialogue.  When Evie notes that Gloria is "tough" and "durable," Gloria responds, "I'm the Ford pick-up truck of parenthood."

The trio of performers acquit themselves well.  The most interesting character is that of Evie as portrayed by Kate Kenney.  Decked out in khaki camouflage pants with a studded belt, black halter top and low boots, courtesy of the excellent costume design of Patricia E. Doherty, and sporting tattoos and red streaked hair, Evie is most parents' nightmare.  Yet Kenney manages to bring out the complexities of a young girl who is simultaneously psychopathic and intelligent. 

Director SuzAnne Barbaras directs with fluidity and conviction.  Jessica Parks has designed a solid, detailed set.

Coming to us on the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, Evie's Waltz is a one-act, seventy-minute suspenser about a family in crisis that seems to have been inspired by the that tragedy and longstanding assumptions as to its perpetrators' motivations.  Since 1999, these assumptions have been the basis for endless analysis and speculation in all media.  Author Carter W. Lewis likely intended to shed some light on that event.  However, recent accounts have debunked the common wisdom as to the motivations of the Columbine perpetrators.  At the end of the day, such disasters result from inexplicable, deep-seated mental aberration rather than the bullying and ridicule which untold numbers of youngsters survive and triumph over universally.  Thus, while his intention may have been more ambitious, Carter W. Lewis' Evie's Waltz is simply a summer night's melodramatic entertainment.

Evie's Waltz continues performances (Evenings: Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m. / Sun. 7 PM; Matinees: Sat 3 p.m./ Sun 2 p.m.) through July 26, 2009 at the New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740. Box Office: 732-229-3166; online: www.njrep.org.

Evie's Waltz by Carter W. Lewis; directed by SuzAnne Barbaras

Cast
Clay Matthews…………Warren Kelley
Gloria Matthews………..Andrea Gallo
Evie………………………..Kate Kenney

Photo: SuzAnne Barabas


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- Bob Rendell



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