Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Apples in WinterUrbanite Theatre
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Crucible

Roxanne Fay
Photo by Dylan Jon Wade Cox
Apples in Winter by Jennifer Fawcett is the current offering at Sarasota's Urbanite Theatre. Originally a different play was announced for this slot, Henry Naylor's Angel part of his Arabian Nightmares trilogy, but when casting a main role became highly controversial, Co-Artistic Directors Summer Dawn Wallace and Brendan Ragan decided to substitute this play. Beginning as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, with productions at Riverside Theatre in Iowa, Center Stage in New Jersey, and Phoenix Theatre in Indiana, this is a superbly crafted, deeply emotional, potential tour de force.

Miriam arrives at the prison where her son is about to be executed to make him an apple pie for his last meal. Over the course of a little more than two hours in real time, she lives through all the emotions that might be expected from a mother in this position. Main themes include substance abuse, parenting, the state of the mental health system, and general guilt. I found it a gut-wrenching piece, examining a lot of important subjects.

When I first learned about this play and its subject, I thought that there was only one actress locally who could play the part, Roxanne Fay, and so it has come to be. Ms. Fay is an amazing actress—she gave Nurse Ratchet a layer of humanity I never imagined possible and has been brilliant in everything I have ever seen her in. Miriam is by far her greatest assumption and I believe one of the finest acting performances seen in my many years of theatregoing.

Miriam arrives on stage and wordlessly looks around her unfamiliar surroundings, an institutional kitchen. Those first moments show the deep, deep pain inside this woman. She is so grounded in this emotion that daily life activities are merely sublimations to hold it at bay for moments at a time, a short respite. From here on, the audience has the opportunity to share with Miriam as audience and character potentially become one.

Kirsten Franklin directs and obviously such a brilliant performance is a joint effort between actress and director. Chad Eric Bergman's scenic design is amazingly realistic, Dee Sullivan's costume design further defines Miriam, and Rew Tippin's sound design adds value.

I think Apples in Winter will be remembered as one of the finest theatrical productions of the season. Don't miss it.

Apples in Winter, through February 17, 2019 at Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St. Sarasota FL. Visit for more information