Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 26, 2015


The Majestic, West Springfield, MA
through February 15, 2015
by Shera Cohen

It’s always a thrill for the theatregoer to participate in a world premier, which is the case with “Iris,” penned by Majestic’s Artistic Director Danny Eaton.

The era is the present and future. The characters are every-day folk, primarily representing a family; one member, ever-present center-stage, lays in a coma. Her daughter (Iris) is the primary narrator as well as the lead character. As the story progresses, what seems to be normal under the circumstances and in the setting of a long-term health care facility, takes a twist.

Dylan Brown plays Iris as intelligent, sprightly, and charming. She portrays the daughter who every mother would want. It is through her eyes that the audience sees and understands the others on stage. She watches every minute movement and listens to every syllable, reacting with her eyes and demeanor. To say more is to give away the mystery of the plot.

The playbill refers to the subject matter as “putting a human face on issues.” Yes, “Iris” certainly fulfills that requirement, and in most cases appropriately, slowly, and gently. However, Act II, in particular, seems to have “issues” that come from nowhere, causing some characters to react unexpectedly. Issues include religion, war and veterans, and euthanasia, among others -- with a different character leading the charge and rhetoric on each. Tom Dahl portrays the best of these outspoken characters as maintenance man Leonard. Steve Henderson, whose volume on stage is often loud (or he is directed to be loud), is spot-on as a caring father. It is Keith Langsdale’s Columbo-ish cop who in Act II brings some much-needed humor.

An important factor in all Majestic plays is the mix of Equity and community actors. Skipping the definition of “Equity,” suffice it to say that these are pros, and community actors are just that -- from the community, usually with day jobs that don’t resemble the arts in any way. Yet, the difference between the two genres of actors is undetectable by the human eyes. Once again, The Majestic has mounted a play whose actors have been well cast and, for the most part, exemplary.