Trinity Rep’s “Veronica Meadows” Can Bewitch & Make You Think

Apr 9, 2014

Jennifer Laine Williams and Angela Brazil in Veronica Meadows by Stephen Thorne showing at Trinity Rep.
Credit Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

You know, every now and then a listener or reader calls, or e-mails, or tweets, or something, to disagree with one of my reviews. Now I know you, dear listener, find that hard to believe. But it happens. And the most used complaint asks whether “Mr. Gale and I saw the same play?”

Well, the answer is “no.”  After all, we are different folks with different sexes, backgrounds, beliefs, experiences. It’s inevitable that we’ll have different takes watching a play.

Which, finally, gets me around to Stephen Thorne’s “Veronica Meadows” a terrific play, filled with laughter and tears. It’s sweet and rapacious, soft and hard, loving and scary, almost all at once. As it swings across Veronica’s life it also looks at the lives of others, her falling apart grandfather, her down-home girlfriend, the local town big shot, and a half dozen other themes.

In the end, I have no doubt that many, probably most, Trinity-goers will walk out a little confused, a little not-quite-sure exactly what they have seen and heard. But I also think many of us will remember this work, and consider it in different contexts.

Thorne, a fine actor, who also wrote the play about Edgar Allen Poe Trinity did a couple of years ago, comes across here as a guy who obviously watches, and thinks about, the world around him.

In “Veronica Meadows” he’s relating his thoughts about aging, about wondering where you are considering your dreams as a young person. He’s also looking sharply at age, and strife, and the need for comprehension of not only those around you, but of yourself.

True enough, this play needs more clarity, particularly in its ending, its resolvement, or the lack it. But, still, it’s a wacky, funny play with insightful views, lots of laughs, and some tears, too. 

On a capacious and useful double-decker set by Patrick Lynch, director Michael Perlman focuses very well on every quicksilver plot curve in.”

So, does a driving cast led by Angela Brazil, the author’s wife, who brings super confidence and understanding to her character whether it’s Veronica as a wide-eyed teenager or a driven-to-a-downfall middle-aged woman. As her sidekick, Jennifer Laine Williams is funny and sweet, playing a dull-minded character who may just end up more satisfied than her leader.

The supporting cast shows the depth of Trinity’s performers. Fred Sullivan Jr. is a hoot as a small town big shot, and he can sing, too. Brian McEleney runs from poor old guy to murderous hood. Phyllis Kay is funny all the time and Joe Wilson Jr. seems to run through a dozen characters.

But the play’s the thing here. And this one, although it can confound and distract, is also a work that can bewitch, and even make you think. After all, a couple of the tunes used are “September Song” and “As Time Goes By.”

Want to Go?

“Veronica Meadows” continues at Trinity Rep through May 4th.

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