THEATER REVIEW: “Redwood Curtain” @ Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Photograph by John Sowle
Lanford Wilson was one of America’s foremost playwrights during the latter half of the twentieth century. Though he garnered his initial fame with the 1973 off-Broadway production of Hot l Baltimore, some of his later, more controversial plays dealt with returning Viet Nam war veterans, in particular The Fifth of July, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980, and Redwood Curtain, a vastly underrated play in 1993. The latter is receiving an intelligent and affecting production at the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill through Sunday (November 12).
Geri (Julie Pham) is a 17-year-old Amerasian adoptee from Viet Nam visiting her aunt Geneva, (Molly Parker Myers) her late father’s sister, in Northern California at the outskirts of a redwood forest. This haunting and mysterious locale attracts Viet Nam vets who want to disassociate themselves from the greater society. Geri, a pianist who has toured the country and Europe and has a Sony recording contract, has put her immediate life aside to search the forest for her American father.
She follows one of these bedraggled men, whom we get to know as Lyman (Joseph Tisa), out of town into the redwoods until they confront each other. She questions him as to whether he knows, or perhaps is, her father. He rejects her attempts to explore his past and instead bullies her to give him her purse and wallet.
A mystical element enters the play as she insists she has the power to affect the atmosphere and does so to impress and frighten Lyman. After a physical tussle, she faints, and he retreats back into the woods. Geneva finds her in the glade, brings her home and attempts to dissuade her from the search and to return to where her genius lies… the piano.