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March 23, 2017

Stage Review: The Visitation (Space55)

Well, this is a first. I’m actually watching a play that’s been recorded on DVD. I’m not actually one for plays. I’ve seen a few. I’ve enjoyed a few. But on the whole (cue Dr. Evil…) I’m not really a play person. So I’m already going into this cranky.
No shade for any of my friends who have acted in or directed or were in any way involved with theatrical productions. Gods know I have no talent for it.

The Space 55 Theater Ensemble brings us The Visitation, an hour long (thank you sweet baby jeebus) story about a married couple, Samantha and Michael. In the wee hours of one night, Sam and Michael are arguing - mostly about his drinking - when they hear a car accident outside. In comes George carrying his possibly concussed wife, Evelyn. While they beg off the cops and ambulance (they don’t believe in that non-God sanctioned nonsense), they decide to hang around and wait for Evelyn to feel better.


While they wait, we learn a few things about each couple. Like Sam and Michael fight all the time, and pretty much have been since his sister, Jane, died a year ago. George and Evelyn just moved to the neighborhood 11 months ago and are the “God has a plan for everything” type of folk. George and Sam both quit smoking and bond over that while shopping for batteries. Michael and Evelyn are both frustrated and bond over a make out session (and possible off-stage sex) while their spouses are gone.

Wait, what?

After a few more plot twists, an influencing ghost, and a love that shall not speak its name, we end up with one fuck all of an ending that I didn’t see coming.

Now there’s lots wrong AND right with this play. 

WRONG: I understand this is a play being filmed but I wish the camera had been placed higher so I didn’t have to look at the backs of audience members’ heads through the whole thing. The sound was terrible. So much echo that I couldn’t understand half of the dialogue. And that’s not counting the 5 minutes where the dialogue doubled up with an echo that gave me a migraine (think someone calling into a radio station and standing too close to their boombox). The quality of the DVD is just awful. I felt like I needed to up the prescription on my glasses. And the pacing dragged way too much for such a short play.

RIGHT: While some of the acting seemed a bit stilted, in general it was so much better than a lot of crap I’ve had to watch for this site. I do love the use of the phone call flashback in-between sets. I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about until the big reveal. And speaking of the reveal, I though it was quite ingenious. Had a bit of that Twilight Zone feel to it. I didn’t particularly care for the ending but it made sense and really, it was interesting to see how far Michael and Samantha go after what started out as just a blasé evening.

From the looks of this DVD (I don’t even know when this was performed), and the Space 55 website, this play is not archived and I bet you can’t purchase the disc anywhere. Unless maybe you live in Arizona or know people involved in the production. I can't find any stills or promotional images for it, either. But if you can get your hands on it or the actual play comes out somewhere near you, you might actually enjoy it!

2.5 Hatchets (out of 5)

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