By Dennis Spair
The lights come up to reveal an entire stage basking in the tranquil glow of a large, beautiful lake projected beyond the windows of a charming house. It’s dawn, and a woman sits alone at her table. She scribbles some notes in her journal, setting a heartfelt and contemplative tone. Lake Anne is a powerful, emotionally moving play.
Playwright Marthe Rachel Gold’s words fill her characters with nuances that are genuine and utterly believable. She infuses their dialog with lush, multiple layers of sensitivity and contempt. Their tensions build and release multiple times, enabling them to straddle conflicting feelings for each other.
Director John Frank Levey elicits compelling performances from each of his actors and actresses. He creates a memorable world for them to exist in, and reveals their flawed humanity perfectly.
It’s these amazing performances from each cast member that capture our hearts and minds. Laurie O’Brien as “Anne” is riveting. Alex Smith as her frail son “Will” and Laura Gardner as her best friend “Emily” are so convincing you’ll want to embrace them and assure them everything’s going to be okay. Michael Traynor as “Joe” possesses amazing physical abilities as both a dancer and actor. Stephanie Michels as “Laurie” balances her concern and greed with equal talent.
Set design (JR Bruce), choreography (Cate Caplin), sound design (David B. Marling), and lighting design (Derrick McDaniel) are all fantastic. Cheers to Artistic Directors Taylor Gilbert and Sam Anderson for bringing this beautiful play to The Road Theater Company. Lake Anne runs through Nov. 9 at the NoHo Senior Arts Colony located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood.