TR Robertson– The latest play, for Scripps Ranch Theatre, has a most interesting premise and storyline as it spans 32 years in the intertwining life of three couples who have all stayed at some time, thru the years, in the same guest house near Stratford, Ontario, Canada. This cleverly designed play, “Return Engagements”, was written by Canadian playwright and screenwriter Bernard Slade. The play is divided into two acts with three scenes in each act, each scene representing a different year.
The play begins in June of 1954 as we meet our first couple, a clumsy and very nervous bellboy, Raymond MacKay, who has bedded a bride to be (not his), Daisy Lawrence, on her wedding night. It seems the bellboy has taken advantage of the tipsy actresses who awakens to find herself in bed with the young man. Needless to say, a fight ensues as the bride-to-be berates the bellboy and tries to discover why she would do such a thing.
Photos by Ken Jacques
We are next taken to mid-October of 1956, as carpenter Joe Bristol awakens in bed with a young, talkative Polish woman, Miranda Jablonski, in the same as Daisy and Ray had years ago. It seems Miranda wants to have a child and she has determined Joe would be the best candidate for fathering her first child. Miranda has no intention of marrying Joe, even though Joe would dearly love to marry her. Miranda has everything planned out on how she will explain her pregnancy.
The final scene of Act I will take us to a summer morning in 1963 and rising from bed, again in the same room as Ray, Daisy, Joe and Miranda had arisen years ago, is Fern Edwards and Oliver Edwards, two very pompous and uptight people. Fern is a therapist and Oliver writes a column for a newspaper. The Edwards were once married but are now meeting again as they have tickets to the theatre they do not want to waste. It seems Oliver is planning on marrying Dawn and Fern is married to Henry Metcalf, a dentist. Fern and Oliver’s discussions center on Oliver’s lack of intimacy and emotion. Oliver tries to convince her he has changed since he met Dawn when she was demonstrating potato peelers. Fern met Henry when she was crying on a subway and he offered her his handkerchief. We also find out Fern had as a patient Ray and Miranda had once approached Oliver about fathering her child. Before this scene is over Henry and Dawn arrive together to tell Fern and Oliver they have fallen for one another and want to marry.
And this is just Act I of this multi-layered, complex look at the how lives can be inter-connected in so many ways, even without our knowledge. For “Return Engagements”, Scripps Ranch Theatre has brought together a very talented group of four actors and four actresses to portray these unique characters over the years.
Without giving too much away about Act II, Act II will begin in 1974 and Raymond and Daisy are in slightly different roles with a different life than each expected. Moving to 1981, Joe and someone who looks like Miranda, but is not Miranda, will find both happiness and sadness in where their lives are at the time and the final scene of Act II ends in 1986 with all eight of the cast coming together with a multitude of changes that have occurred in these people’s lives and a most unusual series of links that have bought all of them together. Some would call it destiny.
Bernard Slade has written a play which shows how mysterious our lives can be and the most unusual circumstances that can occur to change the course of people’s lives. Relationships, love, friendship, success, and failure comes and goes in everyone’s life. This is what makes life so rich, rewarding and most interesting.
To pull off this fascinating tale for Scripps Ranch Theatre is a veteran group of actors and actresses, several making their SRT debut. Playing the nervous ad quirky bellboy Raymond is Adam Daniel. He fits his character to a tee. His romantic interests, playing the bossy, push actress Daisy is Ruth Carlson Russel, making her SRT debut. Playing Joe, the lovelorn, romantic carpenter, is Nick Young. Julia Giolzetti plays the young Polish girl Miranda, and another surprise role in Act II. She is wonderful as the talkative, driven Miranda.
A perfect casting is made for the uppity, pretentious divorced Edwards couple is Morgan Carberry as Fern and Robin Thompson as Oliver. Rounding out the cast is Natalia Maggio returning to SRT, as the flower power Dawn and Samuel Young as paranoid dentist Henry Metcalf. It is obvious from the quality performances on stage that everyone in this cast is having a good time in the roles they are playing.
Bernard Slade is most noted for his Tony Award nomination and Drama Desk Award for the critically acclaimed “Same Time, Next Year”, which also received an Oscar nomination and he is also known for developing the television show “The Flying Nun” and as a screenwriter for shows like “The Partridge Family”, “Bewitched” and “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”.
SRT Director Charles Peters worked with his Production Team to creative this funny, entertaining play. The Team consisted of Assistant Director Colette Hamilton, Production Manager Barbara Barber, Stage Manager Darcy Harmen, Lighting Designer Tabitha Wiebe, Costume Designer Pan Stompoly-Ericson, Sound Designer Steve Murdock, Properties Designer Sue Givens and Assistant Stage Manager Marguerite Hartman.
“Return Engagements” will be at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the Alliant International University campus until April 28th. Tickets are available at www.scrippsranchtheatre.com or call 858-578-7728.