Tag Archives: Anthony Lawton

PTC mounts Graham’s The Outgoing Tide

The Outgoing Tide by Bruce Graham, directed by James J. Christy, Philadelphia Theatre Company at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, March 28-April 22, 2012, Review of March 28 for WRTI, 90.1 fm.

During one of his lucid moments from Alzheimer’s, Gunner, the indefatigable hero of Bruce Gunner’s The Outgoing Tide, announces he is not going to spend the last days of his life in assisted living let alone in diapers. He has a plan. Gunner, a retired trucker and Philadelphia Teamster is a braggart, a bully and likeable for all the warts and wonders of Richard Poe’s brilliant portrayal.

Graham’s new play produced by The Philadelphia Theatre Company, takes a look at a grim subject with the playwright’s customary working class wit. A family tries to come to grips with Alzheimers’s and the mistakes parents have made with their only child. Son Jack, played by Anthony Lawton may be the The Outgoing Tide’s least realized character, though as the gifted Lawton plays him there are many layers. Jack is sensitive, gifted, the son who can’t measure up to the dominant Gunner and who’s been misinformed and mollycoddled by mother.

Jack at his father’s request visits Gunner, who doesn’t recognize him and tells awful tales about this son, the chef. He’s unaware Jack’s given up his restaurant- we are never told why.  Gunner had said “Don’t tell your mother”  when he invited Jack to come. Jack’s spent his life keeping secrets from one parent or the other.  His mother Peg, who wants to put Gunner in a home, is also requesting Gunner not be told things, and so the schemes and secrets will accrue

The Outgoing Tide is funny and it’s poignant. Credit Graham’s  writing, credit the acting, credit long-time Graham collaborator James Christy’s direction. Robin Mosely who plays Gunner’s wife is a pistol as the obstinate Peg, once meek, now sure, now vulnerable about the man who hugely irritates her (and whom she deeply loves.)

The exterior of desginer David Gordon’s Chesapeake cottage is almost too magazine perfect for these people but the interiors are just right. R. Lee Kennedy’s lighting is sublime….Tough truths on stage at the Suzanne Roberts through April 22 with The Outgoing Tide.

Charlotte’s Web at The Arden

Charlotte’s Web, The Arden Theater, (previews: Nov 30-Jan 29, 2011. Review of Opening: Dec. 2, 2011, on WRTI, 90.1 Fm

Aubie Merrylees makes some pig. Terrific, radiant, definitely humble, on stage at the Arden Theatre for his debut in Charlotte’s Web. Innocent and round-eyed, Merrylees has a way of looking at Fern who saves the runt from her father’s axe that’s just like the book. Fern Arable is played by the endearing Emilie Krause. John Arable by Charlie Delmarcelle, whose roles include some of the E.B. White  narration, a mean harmonica and sweet guitar.

Mr. and Mrs. Arable (Leah Walton) also play goose and gander in the Zuckerman’s barn which is more than a hoot.

White’s classic – adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette – is must-see for families –even for singles – this holiday.

As for Charlotte, the talented spider couldn’t be bettered: Sarah Gliko, perfectly costumed by Rosemary McKelvey, plays the empathic arachnid, sliding down a rope in the barn. Everything from her black bob to her manner is Charlotte, through and through.

The Arden production relies far more on thespian imagination than costume for animals and people in the Arable and Zuckerman barns.  Wilbur on his knees or standing is the soul of a pig or boy in need of a friend.

Christopher Colucci’s sound design brings the story together under David Gordon’s mockup of a barn with real hay and dirt. Nine actors switch from animals to humans and it’s a wonder how little we need (in the way of costumes, props) to know when we are hearing sheep, geese, pigs or humans speaking.  Imagination is all.  Excellent Brian Anthony Wilson slides from Homer Zuckerman, who hopes to fatten Wilbur to  a convincing sheep or blue- ribbon pig.

One surprise is Anthony Lawton. Lawton’s played the Arden but never  the Arden’s children’s theater. He’s a natural as Templeton the Rat, as churlish as felon as you’d want, tail swinging from beneath long coat… Whit McLaughlin directs Charlotte’s Web. Do go!