A Walk in the Woods - Theatre Review

By Terry Gloeggler

Phil Crowley and Nan McNamara 
Photo by Matthew Gilmore
"A Walk in the Woods" by Lee Blessing and directed by Ken Sawyer is so much more than a politically charged two actor play about negotiators during the Cold War. This historically set work still resonates with human intrigue between major players on the global scale and how that actually comes down to two negotiators at a table in Geneva Switzerland. What do these people who could be friends, enemies or diplomats find to talk about away from the table and in the woods? What pressures are on these two humans who hold responsibility for deescalating nuclear arms between the USA and the USSR? Are we doing anything different today?

This performance will captivate you from start to finish. Actors Co-op Theatre Company's production of this Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Tony Award nominated drama is brought to life by Phil Crowley and Nan McNamara. This dynamic duo dives into the characters of the Russian negotiator Andrey Botvinnik (endearingly and pointedly portrayed by Mr Crowley) and his American counterpart Joan Honeyman (played by the strict and cooly controlled Nan McNamara). The humor and humanity in the basic interactions between people that represent so much, just being themselves vs falling into their job titles makes the story engrossing. Well the American always wants to stick to job titles, while the jovial Russian wants to embrace the frivolous. He hides it well but Botvirnnik is a jaded government worker meeting an idealistic up and comer in Honeyman on opposite sides of the political chess board,and watching their interaction is engrossing.

The play is masterfully staged. With minimal set pieces the production cleverly used what they had to force a different view of the scene on the audience as we watch four encounters between the negotiators. Basically a bench, a makeshift small bridge and a stump set the scene for what we imagine to be a lovely clearing in the woods with a small stream. By repositioning these props the viewers perspective is shifted and it makes each scene feel fresh and interesting like we are turning around this dramatic space in a circle.

The dialogue is witty and though the play was first staged some 30 years ago the laughs flow naturally and the humor does not feel at all dated. I was charmed by Mr Crowley and his delivery was excellent. The whole production flowed smoothly and the time flew by as we followed two people on their walk in the woods.

The play runs through March 18 at the Actors Co-op Crossley Theatre in Hollywood.

Posted By Discover Hollywood on February 15, 2018 02:57 pm | Permalink