archive
links
essays

Winter in Graupel Bay

[The following review is scheduled to appear in the Denver Post on Friday December 8th.]

To answer the perennially perplexing question—"What to perform during the holidays?"—Denver's perpetually innovative Buntport Theatre has created Winter in Graupel Bay, a poignant and witty snapshot of the residents of a small town on the shortest day of the year.

The company's evolving proficiency in collaborative theatre—this is their 20th original production—expresses itself in a delightfully complex and interwoven storyline and a marvelously poetic script that conjures a neighborhood somewhere in the vicinity of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood.

Stretched out length-wise in Buntport's flexible space, a spare but multifaceted set offers us a cutaway of the residents' living quarters and entry into their intimate behavior. The jazzy sound design that accompanies the scenic interludes of the burghers scurrying to and fro sets an up tempo pace for the proceedings.

Erik Edborg as William Lunelia humors the pretentious delusions of Erin Rollman as Lady Fergus
Erik Edborg as William Lunelia
humors the pretentious delusions of
Erin Rollman as Lady Fergus
Photo: Marc Hughes
Above all, Graupel Bay is inhabited by a collection of quintessential characters, with each of the company members playing multiple roles. Young and precocious Polly Soldonovich (Erin Rollman) serves as the narrator of this tale, setting the stage and filling us in on the eccentricities of the locals. Dressed in a jumper and accompanied by only a small rubber ball, Rollman skips from one abode to the next, inviting us to join her as she makes her inquisitive rounds.

Erin Rollman as Mrs. Walspur and Hannah Duggan as Mrs. Green
Erin Rollman as Mrs. Walspur gossips
with Hannah Duggan as Mrs. Green
Photo: Marc Hughes
First, there's Mrs. Green, a gossip who trades barbs with Mrs. Walsper at tea everyday, where they perform their version of Russian roulette, each of the old ladies trying to poison the other when she's not looking. In an ongoing series of vignettes, Hannah Duggan and Rollman switch cups with elaborate hand choreography, orchestrated to a riot of vocal gymnastics that air the neighborhood's dirty laundry.

Brian Colonna as Andrew Fromer learns about life as a horse's ass Evan Weissman as Great-Grandfather Fromer
Brian Colonna as Andrew Fromer learns
about life as a horse's ass from
Evan Weissman as Great-Grandfather Fromer
Photo: Marc Hughes
Every town needs a loser and in Graupel Bay that's Andrew Fromer who for the life of him can't seem to get a job. Morose from head to toe with a face nearly as long, Brian Colonna's Andrew mopes around town when he's not seeking solace in sleep. We learn that he's inherited his karma from Great-Grandfather Fromer (Evan Weissman), who spent his whole career in show biz as the rear-end of a horse.

Evan Weissman as Clark Walters remains glued to the boob tube
Evan Weissman as Clark
Walters remains glued
to the boob tube
Photo: Marc Hughes
Weissman sends us back to a bygone era with his melodramatic flair for Vaudevillian song and dance numbers, first a soft shoe solo and then joined by Duggan's Peg Mulord for a spin around the stage.

Erik Edborg, as the local drunk, Toothy Bill, cleverly avoids overdoing the stereotypical indications of inebriation, painting a souse worthy of the best fools: silly one moment, astute the next.

As the day unfolds, we meet the rest of the town folk, including: the irrepressible Rollman's Miss Perkins, the terminally cheery shop owner, and Lady Fergus, a pretentious bed-bound grand dame of operatic proportions; Colonna and Duggan's Bob and Addy Hooks, he obsessed with the obits and she with her cockatoo; Weissman's Clark Walters, a couch potato with a penchant for old movies, and Bruce Bentley, whose daily purchase of flour is a local mystery; and Edborg's William and Larry Lunelia, a lonely banker and a star-gazing dreamer.

Hannah Duggan as Mrs. Hooks converses with her sulfur-crested cockatoo
Hannah Duggan as
Mrs. Hooks converses with
her sulfur-crested cockatoo
Photo: Marc Hughes
If you're burned out on the Sugarplum Fairy's magic and Ebenezer Scrooge's miraculous transformation, perhaps a day in Graupel Bay is just the ticket to lift your holiday spirits and bring home your everyday blessings.

Buntport Theatre's production of Winter in Graupel Bay runs through December 23rd. 720-946-1388.








Bob Bows

 

Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster