See Rock City at the Rubicon
Sequels are often not up to the standards of the original. However, See Rock City is a glowing example that lightning can strike the same place twice with double the intensity – especially when presented with the power and delicate finesse of the artists assembled by the Rubicon Theatre Company’s production gurus.
See Rock City is the second in a trilogy by Arlene Hutton that follows the lives of a young Kentucky couple, May and Raleigh, during and after WW II. Although their journey started in Last Train to Nibroc, presented by the Rubicon last season, the current story stands on its own.
The play opens as the couple returns from their honeymoon during which they got detoured from a planned visit to see Rock City, a famous Tennessee tourist attraction. Now it is time to come to terms with some of life’s limitations.
As a medical condition prohibits Raleigh from both military service and physical labor, they must live with May’s parents – the Gills. So, the action takes place primarily on the front porch of the Gills’ modest frame farm house.
The couple’s tradition roles are reversed as May, a school principal, becomes the breadwinner, and Raleigh, a writer, unsuccessfully attempts to sell his magazine stories. His inability to support neither the War effort nor his wife weigh on him greatly. Yet, both are optimists and they face their obstacles with transparent emotions, all the while holding back their fears for the future.
Lily Nicksay, as May, and Eric Odom, as Raleigh, skillfully, gently and solidly reprise the personas they embodied in Last Train.
May’s mother, Mrs. Gill (Sharon Sharth), provides the stability the couple needs, while Raleigh’s mother, Mrs. Brummett (Clarinda Ross), casts a negative shadow over every encounter.
How the characters communicate and cope with each other is a fascinating study in conflict, denial and nuances of accommodation.
The four members of the ensemble cast are rich with experience and meld together seamlessly as a unit.
Director Katherine Farmer, who also directed Last Train, shows a keen eye for subtlety in movement that not only gives the actors full reign, but also emotionally brings the audience up on the porch with the characters. This unique ability at once provides immersion for the audience and accentuates empathy for the characters as they tell their tale.
Presented without an intermission, the action takes a serious turn at the end, leaving ample room for the completion of the saga in the final part of the trilogy, Gulf View Drive, which is slated for the Rubicon stage next season.
See Rock City plays Wednesdays to Sundays until February 14, 2016 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St. (corner of Main and Laurel Streets) in downtown Ventura. Matinees: 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Evenings performances at 8 p.m., except 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, which features a post-show talk back with the cast. Tickets: $44-$54. The box office is open 7 days a week. There is 24-hour ticketing and seat selection online at www.rubicontheatre.org. 667-2900.