With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy/Dramatic Criticism, Alyssa Dyksterhouse has over 20 years of professional theater experience. She recently returned from the living in the Pacific Northwest where she wrote about arts and culture for Seattle Weekly and Seattle Gay Scene.
Pictured: Caroline Heffernan and Cyd Blakewell. Photo by Joel Maisonet.
Review: THE SNARE at Jackalope Theatre Company
By Alyssa Dyksterhouse
In 2017, everything is a touchy subject, and even the most innocent idea or remark can incite outrage. Some people are unwilling to engage in conversations with those who hold different perspectives. Sadly, this inability to communicate is killing the concept of community. Therefore, Jackalope Theatre Company’s THE SNARE conjures up a courageous choice by tackling the most taboo of topics—religion.
In a nutshell, Ruth (Caroline Heffernan), an average eighth grader, mentions that the Satan speaks to her. Subsequently, her minister mom Abigail (Cyd Blakewell) and family struggle in scuffling something unseen while scrutinizing subjects such as faith, doubt and maturing. No, this not a play inspired by THE EXORCIST.
The opening scene, as this family of four prays, is reminiscent of a Lifetime movie, but that would be an insult to Samantha Beach’s engaging and quick-witted script. My only criticism lies in that, for all the ado about her moody and brooding behavior, Ruth seems to be typical teenager complete with screaming, “I hate you.” Many people assume that adolescents can be annoying. Particularly those with lacking the Y chromosome. They are often described as demonic; thus, aside for the babbling with Beelzebub, I recoiled recalling the awkwardness associated my tween years. #IWouldn’tGoBack
Under the devilish direction of Elana Boulos, this ensemble of engages and endears. I was particularly impressed with the two teenagers in the cast—Heffernan and Sam Blin as her brother Caleb. They share a memorable moment as they ponder if she is possessed. Moreover, this conflict causes a crisis of faith for Abigail as she is probed to articulate that which she cannot put into words. Blakewell evokes empathy as she grapples with defining her values.
The design elements exemplify what is achievable with a low-budget and faultlessly foil each other. Ashley Woods’ set—an open floor-plan house—creates the feeling of a middle-class suburban family while Cat Wilson’s lights transport us beyond the four walls to cars or gymnasium bleachers. Sarah Jo White’s costumes convey the characters’ conflict and emotional state.
It used to be one did not talk about politics or religion, but now instead of discussing it we toss around labels such as godless, woo-woo and bible-thumper but when was the last time you got interested someone else’s experience? As human beings, we crave connection and understanding which will not be achieved through generic labeling or insults. Perhaps we should remember the Golden Rule. Devil be damned, the charming and family-friendly play invites an intimate inquiry of ideas while tugging at your heart.
THE SNARE runs through April 1st. For more information visit jackalopetheatre.org.