Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of The Cottage
Kevin and Ted are a comfortable couple, married with 10 years together behind them. Into their well-ordered life jumps Kevin's mostly estranged sister, the ne'er do well Donna, trailing her 15-year-old, far wiser than her mother, daughter Lottie. No surprise that emotional chaos is the order of the day, as Kevin and Ted examine their strong feelings about children, especially within same sex families.
Beguelin's writing is excellent; it is believable that the dynamics between the men have been festering for many years. In a pivotal second act scene on a park bench, protective tissue is peeled away and raw emotions exposed. The scene hits home in its low-key intensity. I felt all the hurt feelings and the damage that was going to ensue from the honesty being spilled. The ending, one of several possible choices that still maintains honesty, flows from this scene. The relationship between brother and sister is also examined with similar integrity. Harbor may not be Pulitzer Prize material, but it is a darn good.
Craig Sclavi is Ted, and Marc Bitler is Kevin. The chemistry between them is real: they are classmates at Asolo Conservatory, class of 2020. Sclavi, a head-turner in any setting, is believable as a successful architect, and Bitler is adorably appealing. They play the characters well, but are stretching beyond their years. Based upon the 10 years together and Ted's level of financial accomplishment, I would guess the characters' ages to be Ted early to mid 40s, Kevin early 30s to early 40s, but the actors just don't register much beyond their personal late 20s to very early 30s.
Summer Dawn Wallace is Donna, and she is amazing, precisely as the knocked-about woman for whom life is a constant struggle to survive, forget thrive in. Her reactions to the financial success her brother and his husband live with is spot on. I have seen Ms. Wallace in many things over several years, always to fine effect, but this is the performance that made me finally realize that she is not just versatile but incisive in many of her roles. Jen Diaz is totally believable as teenage Lottie. She is a mismatch to her mother, a corner of calmness in an otherwise insane/zany world. Emotionally, she is the mother to her mother.
Greg Leaming directs deftly, able to move from comedy to making the more dramatic scenes part of the whole. Steven Kemp's scenic design is lavish nouveau-ish riche, but with a sense of style to tone it down. Costume design by David Covach delineates the disparity of social worlds. Lighting by Michael Pasquini is up to his always high standards.
In Harbor, I found myself drawn into the deeper currents of the relationships between the men and Kevin and Donna. This is one of the most likable comedies I've seen in a while.
Dog Days Theatre's Harbor, through August 25, 2019, at Cook Theater in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. Box Office 941-351-8000. For more information visit asolorep.org/dogdays.
Cast (in alphabetical order):