Reviewed by Michael Edwards
The Open Fist Theatre Company's production of "Anatomy of a Gray", is a surprisingly timely meditation of the heart that still lives and thrives, for the most part, in hard working America. That rural heart, where people and commitment to their community is still everything.
This production is tight, well acted, well directed and quite fun. Director Ben Martin appears to have kept a sharp focus on specific actor behaviors and rhythms with this production as each actor appears to move as if in celebration of their character's strong sense of self. Each character is a joy to watch not only for how they act on their own but for how they interact.
As told through the eyes of narrator, June Muldoon, 'Anatomy' is, at its simplest, a sweet coming of age story about a 16 year old girl growing up in Gray, Indiana in the late 1800's. When her father dies rather unnecessarily, an angry Judy prays to God for a healer for the town. Almost immediately, a storm blows a hot air balloon carrying a doctor looking for a home. Judy, her mother, and the handful of town folks that occupy the town of Gray seem off to a wonderful life, that is until a plague that the doctor can't heal starts killing members of the town. Fear of the timing of the plague and doctors arrival leads to trouble.
Post Covid lockdown, everyone is asking the same question;' Is it safe to leave my bubble?' I can't guarantee this Open Fist production will answer that question, but it will inspire you to seek your answer. This production ( lights, sound and set are effective if not minimalist) is a confident reminder of the power of theatre to reveal current day discussions in a necessary forum.
Though the entire cast was stellar, top mentions include: Erica Mae McNeal shimmers as Judy. Her sweet enthusiasm and headstrong ways are never anything less than graceful. Jeremy Guskin's, Doctor Gray is clear and dynamic. A joy to follow. Alina Phelan's Rebekah is beautiful, moving as though she has a secret she'll never tell throughout the storyline. A joy to watch. Alexander Wells, Pastor Wingfield centered the play for me. A perfect mixture of rage, kindness and integrity.