Cast brings out the heartbreak in The Pavilion
|Photo by Guytano Mango|
|Bonni Allen and Michael Lee.|
You can give a lot of credit here to the trio of actors who make up the company. Bonni Allen and Michael Lee play Kari and Peter, the "cutest couple" in high school who suffered a life-changing breakup at the end of their senior year and have not spoken in 20 years.
Now, at an already awkward high school reunion in the outstate Minnesota community, the two meet for the first time in the two decades since Peter fled town for college. They are joined (and maybe aided) by Jason Peterson, who plays the show's Narrator, and a bevy of their high school classmates, from perennially stoned Cookie to old best friend Denise.
The Narrator is a lot like the Stage Manager in Our Town, and Wright has more on his mind than just an examination of a young relationship that devastated both participants. There's a lot of commentary about time and the universe and fate.
Wright, however, isn't as sharp as Thornton Wilder (to be fair, few playwrights are) in delving into the very structure of life through his small-scale drama. That forces Peterson into a lot of dialogue that gets in the way of the story we are actually engaged in here. The congenial actor pulls it off, bridging the gap with the audience for even the most difficult and obtuse of concepts.
Meanwhile, Allen and Lee bring out not just the heartbreak and loss felt by the current incarnations of the characters, but also the deep love that connected them in the past. Allen especially does a strong job of portraying all of the pent-up pain and rage that has waited two decades to finally get a chance to be unleashed. Peter is a bit clueless, and even emotionally clumsy, both of which are well played by Lee.
Director Terry Hempleman molds all of this together into a production that is charming, funny, horrifying, heartbreaking, and loving (sometimes all at once).
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