by Jeff Daniels

Directed by Dan Higgs

Venice Little Theatre Stage II

140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice, 941-488-1115, Jan. 10-Feb. 4, '08


Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker


Steve Mitchell's simple cutaway set with a window, a door, and entrances to spaces in the titled and other settings allows for fluid movement between now and nearly-now and leading to the future in the love life of Annie (Sara Trembly).  She's just rented a curiously available apartment from lively old Dal (Lynne Buhle, projecting atypical warmth for a landlady). Crying, the just cheated-on (again!) Annie is startled by neighbor Donald (hearty, cheerful William Czarniak), welcoming but warning her to lock her door. Boasting of his very happy marriage to a wife out of the country on business, Donald soon makes visits and romantic advice to Annie his business.


Back at the PBS station where development director Annie hosts its fund drive, she creates a stir on air suggesting lack of funds will lead to the death of Big Bird and other Sesame Street animals. Into the fray comes coworker Elliot (sweet, uncomplicated-appearing Jeremy Stone). Soon Annie's having lunch with Elliot, dinner with Donald along with dancing, conversations about religion and God and the afterlife, and love-making with some pretty miraculous effects. Playwright Jeff Daniels proves adept at using twists and turns of plot and unusual parallels with animals (seals yet!) to fashion a new romance out of old. Dan Higgs' biggest directorial surprise is to win as much or more sympathy for the men as for Annie. He also gets away with what could be too-raunchy scenes for most Venice audiences by stressing comedy in them.


Ric Curcio enunciates boldly as a PBS sound man. Chris McVicker's lighting and Dorian Boyd's sound design help make Daniels' complex structure seem straightforward. Priscilla Boyd provides just the right everyday clothes, though Trembly could use at least one change of outfit.


Hannah Betterton is Stage Manager for the entertaining 1 hr., 45 min. production with 1 intermission.

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