Vol. 17, No. 18 – May 29 – June 11, 2024 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Exploring history from the inside out

The Elite Theater Company in Oxnard is now presenting an original work on its South Stage. She, tightly written by Kimberly Demmary and skillfully directed by Jolyn Johnson, is a thoughtful exploration into various inhabitants of an old Victorian home in San Francisco. As do the people inside, the building itself thrives, endures, and diminishes as it ages.

Built on the old saying “If these walls could talk,” the house itself becomes a staple character in this series of vignettes. Paris De La Huerta portrays the symbolic She, reminding the audience throughout to pay attention to what has transpired within its walls and how those involved have changed it throughout decades. The house itself reveals some secrets left behind.

Each of the four vignettes allows the Victorian to be, in turn, revered, cloistering, ignored and finally shuttered as the stories are told.

Elizabeth Rose reflects the role of Maddy, who is grieving the loss of her husband. In a loving gesture of homage to their shortened life together, she encourages Trish (Aubrey De La Huerta) and Robert (Steven Silvers) to take their own leap into love. The three play well off each other with Silvers providing much of the humor. This opening scene clearly envelopes the feelings of security and hope which imbues the walls of the structure with warmth.

Next, a glimpse into inner turmoil is provided by Hayley Silvers (Adora) and Lauren Rachel (Toni). Both are slightly confused, conflicted and challenged by the collision of old and new feelings. Christine Adams as Adora’s grandmother Babette is delightful as she adds wisdom and guidance in a surprising way.

After intermission, an aura of darkness descends. Emily Redman Hall as the character Nadine takes on the scenes monologue vigorously, building from each obstacle thrown her way. Ultimately a few dark truths come to light. The subject matter is sensitive and managed well by the writer, the actress and the director.

The final scene takes an unusual and unexpected turn. Slickly played by Lea Roman, one can almost hear the walls shudder as the action unfolds.

This overall mélange of thoughts and feelings, given recognition by the stately structure that is the home, is a complex and fascinating whirlwind of emotion. There is quite a bit packed into this play. The audience will find some parts uncomfortable, some humorous, some poetic and all well thought out. Helpful resources are provided in the lobby for those who wish to explore further how to cope with some questions that the play and life have a way of throwing in our direction. The effort of providing resources is an excellent touch.

She continues through June 16. Reservations are highly recommended as the seating is limited. Catch it if you can.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. One performance Thursday, June 13 at 8 p.m. www.theElite.org or 805-483-5118.

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