‘Three Viewings’ unspools quirky tales of loss
The cast of "Three Viewings" at Oil Lamp Theater includes (clockwise from rear) Joe Page, Jasmine Ryan and June Entwisle Miller.
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 10.
Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview.
(847) 834-0738; www.oillamptheater.org
Updated: January 21, 2013 11:28PM
In his dark comedy, “Three Viewings,” playwright Jeffrey Hatcher turns the spotlight on a trio of characters, each of whom comes to terms with the loss of someone dear.
The survivors’ quirky stories come to light in monologues that unspool at the same small-town mortuary near Pittsburgh.
Hatcher’s diverting work, confidently directed by Gretchen Sonstroem at Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater, offers audiences plenty of laughs. The production is well cast with veteran actors, including June Entwisle Miller and two Oil Lamp regulars, Joe Page and Jasmine Ryan.
“I love you” becomes a mantra for Emil (Page), an aging, tongue-tied undertaker. More than anything he longs to share his pent-up feelings for Tessie, a divorced real estate agent he fancies. Emil is obsessed with this woman who frequents his establishment to press her business cards in the hands of surviving spouses should they some day decide to scale down to a smaller house. But Emil is too shy — and fearful of rejection — to let his feelings be known.
Page completely captures his character’s frustration as he agonizes over missed opportunities and keeps resetting deadlines for taking decisive action.
Ryan, too, buttons down the kooky Mac, who was known as Jane before she move to Los Angeles. This tough-talking young woman looks the picture of innocence as she describes her method for making ends meet: stealing valuable jewelry from corpses laid out at various funeral parlors.
When Nettie, her rich 103-year-old grandmother dies, Mac heads back to the Pittsburgh area to claim an expensive ring that the old woman once promised her. She’s shocked and dismayed to discover the ring absent from her late relative’s finger, and very quickly the tragic backstory of Mac’s roller-coaster life unfolds.
Miller, who presents the final monologue, impresses with her strong performance as Virginia, a most ordinary housewife whose grief over the death of her husband Ed Carpolotti becomes the least of her worries.
After finding out about the serious implications of her late spouse’s reputation as a “wheeler-dealer,” Virginia faces a bleak future rather than a comfortable, worry-free retirement. Unexpected — and impossible — demands come pouring in from all directions requiring her to cover the mountain of debt Ed left behind. A stunning twist, however, confirms Virginia’s love and trust in Joe was not misplaced.~.