Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 8, 2017


Barrington Stage Co., St. Germain Stage
through August 27, 2017
by Jarice Hanson

Photo by Scott Barrow
When you first see the cluttered St. Germain Stage, you may think that all of This action takes place in one location. Within minutes you realize that Brian Prather’s set and Scott Pinkney’s lighting design offer multiple playing areas for the multi-talented ensemble cast that move through this one-act play with verbal lightning-speed. 

“This” is a play about words, memory, honesty, and dealing with the passage of youth to middle-age. All of those things comprise “This.” The double entendre is a metaphor for a stage in life that is inevitable, but still mysterious and frightening. The play is funny, sad, and very human.

There’s a character who is a mnemonist—a person with exact recall, who corrects the record when husband and wife argue, and who forces everyone to deal with the distortions of reality their minds trick them into believing. No one plays quirky characters with oddball traits better than Mark H. Dold, and in this group of players, his character, Alan, is the perpetually single gay friend who buffers the action among the trio of young widow, Jane (Julia Coffey), her best friend Marrell (Erica Dorfler) and Marrell’s husband Tom (Eddie Boroevich). The catalyst for much of the action is Jean-Pierre (Paris Remillard), an idealistic bisexual “Doctor Without Borders” (or boundaries) who comes to meet Jane, but stays to add an additional level of honesty to the group’s interactions.

Director Louisa Proske successfully finds the balance in the imbalances of relationships and gives every actor their moment to relate to the audience. The result is that we feel empathy for every character, and even more, we see our own illusions and delusions in their struggle to deal with life’s unexpected twists and turns. 

In her introduction to the play Artistic Director Julianne Boyd said that she was pleased to introduce audiences to the work of young playwright Melissa James Gibson.  I concur, and after full immersion in a play that Charles Isherwood called “beautifully conceived, confidently executed and wholly accessible” I look forward to more of Gibson’s written work.   BSC can be proud of the teamwork they’ve harnessed for This.