Review: ‘Strange Country’ at Access Theatre

Asya Danilova

  • OnStage New York Critic

Tiffany (Vanessa Vache) has a lot on her plate on the weekend of 4th of July. She needs to organize a recommitment ceremony of her parents and bring her brother Darryl (Sidney Williams) to the event, which he resists with all the energy, remaining in his depressed and constantly buzzed mind. Tiffany’s girlfriend Jamie (Bethany Geraghty) tag along but her high sensitivity to the mess in the apartment and siblings arguing makes her a terrible help. So here we are, in a small town in Bell County, Texas, trapped in the apartment with three lost soles, watching them helping and terrorizing each other, and it’s not always evident which one it is (is it clear here?)  

Strange Country, produced by New Light Theater Project and Access Theater, is a play written by Anne Adams. She created three complex characters who’s state of being is stagnation jet there is a constant movement in the show which makes it very engulfing (?). Feisty Tiffany, portrayed by Vanessa Vache is like a launched (?) arrow, she has a goal in front of her and she is pushing hard to get there. She is very active on stage, constantly cleaning and packing, smoking in between, firing inspirational lines. Her disturbed other half Jamie played within a broad emotional range by Bethany Geraghty is the one who stirs sibling’s lives. The real dark horse in the play is Darryl brought to life by Sidney Williams. His performance is evenly mellow on the surface throughout the show yet he seems like a different person towards the end of it. 

Three wonderful actors directed by Jay Stull have an amazing chemistry and play off each other very well. Every pause is in its place and even when we are left alone, looking at the stage that everybody left, the anticipation is charged with possibilities.    

The single set designed by Brian Dudkiewicz is a scarily realistically looking apartment with junk crammed (напиханный) everywhere, faded wallpaper and greased lazy-boy. The interior portrays Darryl’s emotional state very well. The lighting design by Michael O'Connor creates seamless transitions between different times of the two days over which the story is unfolding. 

Alcohol and drug abuse, violent temper, broken marriages and children in custody of the ex spouse without visitation rights - Darryl and Jamie have a lot in common. While Tiffany is running around trying to make everything right, the two “most screwed up people in the world” are bonding. Adams doesn’t give us a straightforward answer if they are helping each other or ruining each other’s and theirs futures. Much like in life, there is no black and white, there is a constant struggle for truth and happiness and sometimes people disagree on what is right and their happiness hurts other people. 

Strange Country is running through August 13, Wednesday –Saturday at 8pm. Access Theater is located at 380 Broadway on the 4th floor (at White Street) Tickets are $15 at 630-632-1459 or