Friday, December 01, 2006

Memory House -Seattle Repertory Theater

Seattle Repertory Theater
(206) 443-2222
Runs Through December 17th

On New Year’s Eve, with three hours before the deadline for a postmark on her application essay to her top choice college, Katia (Sharia Pierce) and her mother, Maggie (Jeanne Paulsen) struggle to find each other through each other’s eyes. Throughout the course of this 80-minute rollercoaster, one will struggle to decide who is right and who is deluded. Kathleen Tolan’s Memory House portrays the showdown between teenage angst for identity and middle-age identity crisis in such an eloquent manner that the audience gains a glimpse into the true-to-life anxiety of the night before the application essay is due. The dialogue is piercingly painful and will have each viewer rethinking what memories are the ones to hang on to.

Paulsen’s performance is an absolute phenomenon. Every viewer will see a mother from life in Paulsen’s character. Maggie’s overwhelming love for her daughter boils forth from Paulsen into the world of Memory House. Equally outstanding is Pierce’s presentation of Katia. Her physical awkwardness encapsulates the feeling of those last minutes as fully high school student before the world of College crashes through the gates of her life with blinding force. Both Paulsen and Pierce bring these characters to life on the stage and light up each viewer’s own memory house.

Sharia Pierce and Jeanne Paulsen

Matthew Smucker’s set is another work of artistic splendor. His attention to detail in filling every shelf with trinkets and books and accuracy in a fully functioning kitchen give the audience the feeling of intruding upon someone’s home. Dominic CodyKramers’ sound design is also a feat at which to be marveled. His precision and subtlety with pointed car alarms and sirens bring the Memory House to reality.

Allison Narver’s direction of Memory House brings out the best in all of the elements of this production. Every bit of Tolan’s story and purpose comes through Paulsen and Pierce in the world created for them by their outstanding design team. This is a fantastic production that every Mother-Daughter pair and family dealing with the struggle of prospective colleges should see and discuss. “You have a choice. That’s a big deal” (Maggie, Memory House).

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