Actress Deborah Strang describes O’Neill’s ‘Ah! Wilderness’ as a comic take on an innocent era

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By John K. Adams

Was there life before social media? That would be a resounding “Yes!” as evidenced by the production of Eugene O’Neill’s light, bright comedy, Ah! Wilderness at A Noise Within in Pasadena.

The play portrays a day in the life of the Miller family in July of 1906, before the advent of the internet, television and even radio. And they were happy!

Reviewer Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal said of the play, “It’s as sunny as the day that it describes. But bright sunshine casts dark shadows, and part of what makes Ah, Wilderness! so excellent is that it doesn’t ignore the complexities of life.”

Deborah Strang, who plays Essie Miller, the doting mother of the Miller clan comments, “The play portrays the family and life O’Neill wished he had while growing up. It was uncomplicated, when families weren’t so distracted with consumerism…like what you see in old photos, when families gathered around the piano to sing and going on picnics.”

Strang continues, “Of course there were disagreements, but opinions were spoken out with love and acceptance and a sense of fairness.”

She reveals, “Audiences have been thrilled to see a funny story about a family living before we got so wrapped up with everything changing every second and having to respond.”

Strang describes the reaction of a high school group that attended a matinee: “We worried they would be too jaded. But they got completely involved with the character’s feelings. They laughed easily and enjoyed it thoroughly.”

She concludes, “Ah! Wilderness is very funny. People will be happy to see this and thankful for the respite from their day-to-day lives. It is a real balm to the senses.”

“Ah! Wilderness” is staged through May 20th at A Noise Within located at 3352 E Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena. Visit  ANoiseWithin.org for show dates and times or call (626) 356-3100.

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