- Massachusetts Critic
This captivating play written by Moira Buffini, takes place during WWII on German occupied Guernsey Island. It tells the story of 10-year-old Estelle, her family and a young man with amnesia who washes up on their shore. When they decide to save his life and shelter him in their home, their own lives are endangered. While this drama is dark and often intense, there are numerous moments of humor that lighten the heavy mood. Director Weylin Symes made creative use of the set with his staging. The detailed living space with a small second floor room above it was designed by Matthew Lazure and was nicely lit by lighting designer Jeffrey E. Salzberg.
The cast overall was strong in their characters. Thomas Derrah was cunning, ferocious, and sadistic as German Officer Von Pfunz, giving one of the strongest performances in the show.
Josephine Moshiri Elwood, as Lillian, was sympathetic as a young Jewish girl hiding her true beliefs so that she doesn’t get sent to a concentration camp. Lake, played by Cheryl McMahon, was realistic and practical, only wanting what is best for the family. As Estelle, Marissa Simeqi, though innocent and naïve of the world she lived in and its complexity, was compassionate without reserve and a feisty protector of her family. Georgia Lyman, as Jeanne Becquet, dynamically portrayed her complex character as one who must make difficult choices to protect those she loves. She was often the one to break tension with a humorous or sarcastic line which she timed perfectly. Alexander Molina, as Gabriel the young amnesiac saved by Lillian and Estelle, was completely believable and secure in his character. His sincere confusion about who he is and what had happened to him was heartbreaking.
While the cast had good chemistry and seemed to work well with each other, there were a number of instances when they were not actively listening to one another and thus some line flubs occurred. This also may have impacted their accents as well, as those went in and out during the performance. People’s lives are at stake in the story line of this play and yet the pacing seemed to lack a sense of urgency and the tempo, at times, was slow. Increasing the sense of urgency and pacing of the production would have heightened the emotional stakes of the characters and made their portrayals more believable. That being said, I did enjoy the silent acting moments by the actors when they were not directly involved or present in the scene or conversation. It added realism and depth to the production. Unfortunately, the play ended just after the climax leaving many questions unanswered.
Overall, ‘Gabriel’ was an interesting play with admirable performances by the cast and the audience seemed to really enjoy the production despite some hiccups. ©
Running close to two and a half hours including intermission, ‘Gabriel’ performs at Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St. Stoneham, until May 14th. Tickets range $50- $55 Adults, $45-$50 Seniors and $20 Students (with valid ID). For tickets or more information visit www.stonehamtheatre.org or call the box office at 781-279-2200. Photo: Cast of 'Gabriel' courtesy Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/