By Margie Doyle
Director Doug Bechtel of Orcas Actors Theater said last night that he tries to do “something different” every September. This year, boy did he.
“Torso,” by Seattle playwright Keri Healey is playing at the Grange this weekend and the next two weekends. The dark drama begins with a traumatized woman screaming in bed. It ends revisiting that scene of the traumatized woman screaming in bed.
And in between, both interwoven and unraveling in non-sequential scenes is a nightmare story, both horrific and ordinary. The scenes evoke the anguish of unresolved wrong-doing and the lengths to which we can justify our own wrong-doing. The drama plays out along three story threads, of Daphne, who is grieving her sister’s early death; of Dominick and Marlo, a brother and sister who decide to kill their other brother, who cheated them out of some money; and of Daphne and Eddie’s growing relationship as he helps her in her quest for justice. The scenes play out events such as disastrous set-up dates, bad theatrical auditions, family tragedies, feuds, jealousy, revenge and ultimately murder.
Some of the lines are ominous in their simplicity:
- ”Everybody looks tense, like they have a bus to catch.”
- “She’s going to be very nice to you; just remember she’s not your friend.”
- “Nobody knows what to do with siblings.”
The plan is intricately choreographed, not just the movements of the actors, a small cast who create a multi-character ensemble of incredible depth, but in the mysterious and ominous music of untuned guitar chords and the synchronized lighting, sound effects and set furnishings. Bechtel gives special thanks to Michael White Hayes and John Ackermann, sound designer and composer from the original production last spring in Seattle, who let Actors Theater use their sound track.
But with all the darkness, hysteria and complexity of the drama, the actors shone: biting off lines, crying out in anguish, drawing out unthinkable conclusions, building a casual relationship into the caring and sharing of two wounded souls. Director Bechtel says, “the actors … had to travel to dark places in the psyche of their characters and then push their own individual comfort zones to reach those places.”
As in the original production in Seattle last spring, a relatively small cast play 16 characters. Cast members are Aaimee Johnson, Zach Knight, Gillian Smith, Tom Gossett and Cara Russell. The actors have lengthy monologues and rapid-fire exchanges, and on opening night, they didn’t miss a trick.
They will recreate this drama on Saturday, Sept. 1, and the next two weekends: Sept. 7 and 8; and Sept. 14, 15, and 16. All performances are at the Grange at 7:30 p.m. The playwright will attend the September 1st performance.
Tickets are $10 and are available at Darvills Bookstore, on-line at www.orcasactors.com and at the door. For additional information, contact the Director, Doug Bechtel, at 317-5601.
This play contains strong language, adult situations and partial nudity. This play is not suitable for pre-teens and those easily offended.