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The Nest

Kevin Berntson as Ned and Andrea Syglowski as Irene
Kevin Berntson as Ned
and Andrea Syglowski as Irene
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
Through the ages, alcohol on the stage has served as a means to reveal the subconscious predispositions of the imbibers, sometimes revealing truths that no sober person would mention, as is the case with Shakespeare's fools. Other times, alcohol reveals the dysfunctional parameters of familial or marital dynamics, such as in O'Neill or Albee. Still other uses involve the examination of cultural norms that embrace inebriation as a touchstone for social intercourse, as is the case in so many Irish plays, as well as American sitcoms, such as Cheers.

Brian D. Coats as Barry
Brian D. Coats as Barry
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
In the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck's The Nest (a commission of the Denver Center Theatre Company and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Commission in American Playwrighting, developed at the Colorado New Play Summit in February 2015), we are transported to a family-run neighborhood bar whose clientele is on the wane. A handful of locals still frequent The Nest, gathering to discuss their issues, life events, or last night's goings-on at the bar.

Brian Dykstra as Patrick and David Mason as Nick
Brian Dykstra as Patrick
and David Mason as Nick
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
There are bar scenes here and there throughout the world where interactions could be taken as universal metaphors, but The Nest is not such a place; rather, it is for Rebeck a platform for male bashing. In the course of two hours, a succession of conversations cover: women putting up with men's lectures; women's glass ceiling at the office; men's lack of affection; men's anger; men's pandering to beauty; men's lack of child support; and male usurpation of property ownership.

David Mason as Nick and Victoria Mack as Sam
David Mason as Nick
and Victoria Mack as Sam
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
All of these behaviors are prevalent in our society; so, for perpetrators and victims, The Nest operates as a cautionary tale, if such a limited view of male-female relationships could be said to be insightful. None of the characters—Nick (David Mason) and Lila (Laura Latreille), the bar owners, Barry (Brian D. Coats), the resident philosopher, Patrick (Brian Dykstra), the freeloader and scammer, Margo (Carly Street), the office worker in need of decompression, and Sam (Victoria Mack), the appraiser, who eyes the antique, hand-carved, inlaid bar and matching mirror, as well as the bartender—have the overriding contextual consciousness to offer anything enlightening to say or do, other than one fleeting moment when Barry asks Margo to dance. All this despite convincing performances by the talented ensemble, played out in the round of the Space Theatre on Lisa Orzolek's thoughtful set, which rotates 120 degrees after each scene.

David Mason as Nick and Laura Latreille as Lila
David Mason as Nick
and Laura Latreille as Lila
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
Around and around we go, until the final scene leaves us hanging, presumably because there is no where to go with this, other than a slice of life where clarity is achieved by looking through the bottom of a shot glass.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The Nest, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, runs through February 21st. For tickets: http://www.denvercenter.org.

Bob Bows



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