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Maroon Speckled Sundew
Originally Posted by [bQuote[/b] ] Posted on Thu, Aug. 18, 2005
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'Sundew' a great ride of emotional highs and lows
Special to The Herald
R E V I E W
"S undew" is the name of an extinct maroon speckled carnivorous plant. It's one of the many supposedly extinct animals and plants that fill the life of Elizabeth Andrews (played by Nancy McDoniel).
Unconventional, passionate about the land she loves and quite possibly unbalanced, her character is based loosely on author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. At least that's the way it begins. Playwright, Larry Parr wanted to write about her for years and eventually decided to write a practice play that took on a life of its own. That play, "Sundew," runs through Sunday at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota.
Elizabeth loves God and her land, which she calls Eden. "It's God's land," she says. The words remote, simple and wild apply equally to Elizabeth and the wonderful set. She enjoys her peach brandy and carries on conversations with her dead husband who is buried beneath the tree in the yard.
Her daughter, Alice, (Katherine Michelle Tanner) wants to escape the land and live "the good life." That includes going away to college, getting married and becoming a nurse by day and a socialite by night. Complicating things is Alice's boyfriend Tom (Jerry Richardson) because like Elizabeth, he too, is drawn to the land and the animals. Elizabeth found him when he was no more than two days old, left to die if she had not discovered him in a basket by the river. Similarities to Moses? Well, there's a lot of talk about God and the Bible, but the primary message is saving the environment.
A local attorney (George Hosmer) drops by, breathlessly complaining about the lack of a road and the animals and snakes in the forest. He offers Elizabeth big bucks for the land. That's when secrets come out and the fighting begins.
Scenic designer Marcella Beckwith has built an absolutely fantastic set. Spanish moss drips down from big trees and there's more moss and plants covering the ground. The house is an old Florida wood shack with a front porch and a couple of benches.
The lighting design by Allen Mack was spectacular. There is a scene, where Elizabeth and Tom lay over a bench looking at the "maroon speckled sundew," that was so beautiful an audience member sitting next to me said, "If it was dance it would be choreography." It was beautiful and perfectly framed and there were many moments like that. Director Kate Alexander deserves credit and thanks for that. Costuming by Nicole Wee suited the time, the place and the era.
"Sundew" is an emotional play. Actors Nancy McDoniel, Katherine Michelle Tanner and Jerry Richardson run the gamut from love to hate to rage and tears and express it all extremely well. George Hosmer who plays the somewhat bumbling country attorney did a great job turning into a money-grubbing man.
The emotional highs and lows were a great ride. The secrets that come out will surprise you and the ending will, too.
"Sundew" is the final production of Florida Studio Theatre's summer festival.
If you go
When: Through Sunday. Performances at 8 p.m. through Sunday. Matinees: 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Keating Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Tickets: $26 to $28