AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Allison Moore
Presented by Aurora Theatre Company
Directed by Jessica Heidt
Aurora Theatre
2081 Addison St., Berkeley, CA / (510) 843-4822

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Allison Moore tackles some tough contemporary issues in "Collapse," staged by Aurora Theatre Company. Originally developed by Aurora's Global Age Project for new plays, it's billed as a National Play New Network rolling world premiere. Subsequent productions are reportedly scheduled for Dallas and Denver.

The play's title refers to the literal collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in August 2007. It also refers to the collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008. These two events have profound effects on the play's four characters.

Running without intermission, the play is set in Minneapolis in the spring of 2009. David (Gabriel Marin) and Hannah (Carrie Paff) are a married couple seeking help to conceive a baby. In the meantime, David seems to be in denial about the post-traumatic stress he's suffering after his car fell into the river and he was injured in the bridge collapse. Hannah an attorney, is trying to get him back on track while worrying about the real possibility of losing her job.

Adding to the upheaval, Hannah's free-spirited sister, Susan (Amy Resnick), shows up and intends to stay with them after losing her job and being evicted from her apartment in Los Angeles. When David refuses to go to a support group, Hannah tries to go in his place but winds up talking to a stranger, Ted (Aldo Billingslea), leading to more complications.

Directed by Jessica Heidt, all four actors skillfully negotiate the play's emotional twists and turns. The only caveat is that Resnick rushes some of her lines, losing their comic impact. The design team makes solid contributions with Melpomene Katakalos's set, which features a bridge-like structure; along with Heather Basarab's lighting, Cassandra Carpenter's costumes and Will McCandless' sound. The original recorded music was composed and performed by James Mitchell, Adam Thompson and Neil Wadhawan.

Although Moore has had plays produced elsewhere, she's still relatively new to the U.S. theatrical scene. "Collapse" leaves a few loose ends -- such as the fate of a mysterious package and what direction Susan and Ted might be taking. Nevertheless, it offers some hope for Hannah and David's future, and it deftly blends provocative ideas and issues. I look forward to seeing her develop her talent even further.

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