Review: BETC’s Going to a Place Where You Already Are
By Gabrielle DeCristofaro, ALOC Media (Read the original.)
“The weight of everything I hadn’t done right. It pulls us down. It’s not gravity, it’s regret.” -Roberta
The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s 12th season brought us all over time and space, from Revolutionary France with “The Revolutionists” to 17th century India with “Guards at the Taj.” We questioned our morals and family values with “Birds of North America”. And finally, the season culminated by allowing us to do all of that. With “Going to a Place Where You Already Are” we see ourselves thinking about family, and morals, but we are also brought to a space outside of this earthly plane.
“Going to a Place Where you Already Are”, directed by Rebecca Remaly, and written by Bekah Brunstetter, is one of the first productions in the country of this play. Brunstetter, an award-winning playwright, is best known for her work on television as a writer and producer for the wildly popular NBC show, This Is Us. Brunstetter is in good company with BETC and this year’s playwrights Lauren Gunderson, Rajiv Joseph and Anna Moench.
The plot of “Going to a Place Where You Already Are” mainly focuses on an elderly couple, Joe and Roberta (Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe). Their story grapples with their beliefs, or lack thereof, in Heaven and the afterlife. While Joe, a man of science, is perfectly fine with being an atheist, Roberta begins to think over her past mistakes, and really contemplates her life now as a non-believer. She is an emotional woman, turned righteous, wondering if she is someone deserving of having a nice place to go after she dies.
Their granddaughter, Ellie (Anastasia Davidson), is simultaneously battling with her place as either a good or bad person, and how she is treating a potential love interest, Jonas (Trenton Schindele). Their relationship is superficially complicated, and Ellie makes it that way. Although while the play’s themes include Heaven and death, there is much humor, and actually very little religious dogma attached to it, making it accessible to more viewers.
As with any successful story, the characters transition with their questions and trials. And all of the actors in this play successfully develop with their characters. Anastasia Davidson plays such an unattainable Ellie, making viewers wonder, as she does, if she’s worthy of the happiness that she could potentially have. Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe act with an obvious chemistry, which is so vital with these two characters. They have such deep love and history necessitating not just chemistry, but deep emotions from both Hunt and Sandoe, as we feel the many years they’ve had together. Trenton Schindele plays a very cool Jonas. Despite Ellie’s manufactured distance towards him, he acts both interested and aloof, angry at her and the cards he’s been dealt, allowing more questioning for these characters to have about God and Heaven. Finally, James O’Hagan Murphy plays the rest of the characters in this play, truly showing his range of acting abilities. However, through his interactions with Anne Sandoe, he nails that character. With his inflections and obvious stage presence, that is exactly how that character is supposed to be played.
While Spartan in nature, the set, designed by Tina Anderson, and the lighting, designed by Andrew Metzroth, successfully transports viewers into the spaces of these characters. The modern backdrop elevates the usually traditional sets of BETC, while the sound design, by Jonathan Holt Howard, allows for a more immersive representation of the passage of time and the movement of space.
“Going to a Place Where You Already Are” is full of themes so many people of the Western world can relate to. The life choices of the characters allows us to see ourselves in them. While the portrayal of the different times and places may not be the same for everyone watching, it allows us to have some kind of visual representation, and lets us explore our full emotions as we ponder such heavy ideas as death and love of family.
“Going to a Place Where you Already Are” is being performed in the Grace Gamm Theater at The Dairy Arts Center from April 12-May 6. Get your tickets now!