Saturday, February 20, 2010

Theatrical Review: Love In a Time of War

Theatrical Review: Love In a Time of War
Written by: Catherine Ladnier and Paul Janensch
Directed by: Brydie Jacques
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Worthington Players production of “Love In a Time of War” by Catherine Ladnier and Paul Janensch. The play is based upon letters Eva Lee Brown of Easley, SC received from servicemen and others during World War II. These letters were discovered by her daughter (the play’s co-author Catherine Ladnier) 50 years after they were written and they provide most of the text of the production. The play serves as a tribute to those who participated in that war which defined the era and the generation who lived it.

These letters shared the stories of those who wrote them. Some were from servicemen who shared the excitement of being a part of history while others expressed their regrets of leaving their loved ones behind mingled with the realistic fears they may never see them again. Throughout the production, this reviewer began to notice how the authors of these letters seemed like ghost from another realm. It made me wonder if our memories are but ghostly apparitions of another time which does not exist in this world except in our thoughts. This observation may be a complete digression from the theme and focus of the play, but the thought inspired by its presentation enhanced this reviewer’s enjoyment of it.

The play’s focal point is Eva Lee Brown (as portrayed by Amy Cramer who also serves as The Shawnee Playhouse’s Publicist) who describes how these letters came into being and answers the questions many of the missives left unanswered throughout the piece. The remainder of the cast consists of those who penned these letters. They include Marshall Haskell in the roles of Bill, Clifton, and an unnamed soldier, Travis Southard in the roles of Carl, Art, Harry, and an unnamed soldier, Kevin Hillman (who also served the production as its Stage Manager) in the role of an unnamed soldier, Lydia Samson in the roles of Helen, Mae, Mrs. Leach, Annabel, and an unnamed girlfriend of a soldier, and Lillian Gonzales in the roles of Bea and an unnamed girlfriend of a soldier. The cast also included Midge McClosky (who also serves as the Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse) who (in addition to portraying an unnamed girlfriend of a soldier) performed songs from the era which allowed the audience to retrieve some memories of their own.

The Worthington Players production of “Love In a Time of War” by Catherine Ladnier and Paul Janensch and directed by Brydie Jacques with Lighting Technician Emily Cioc and Sound Technician Kyle Mahaney. The producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. Group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff) as assisted by Becky Haskell.

This production of “Love In a Time of War” by Catherine Ladnier and Paul Janensch continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until February 21st. It was extended from its earlier scheduled run apparently due to the recent inclement weather conditions common throughout the area. Although this extended run is almost at an end, I would encourage many who would like to honor the veterans in their lives to see this play while it‘s still available. It is well performed and staged which makes it well worth seeing. The next Shawnee Playhouse presentations will be The Shawnee Playhouse Annual Staged Readings February 26th - 28th featuring the finalist of their 2011 Original Playwrights Contest. The audience will have the opportunity to choose the play they enjoyed the most and that play will become a full production presented in January 2011.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse and depicts Midge McClosky in “Love In a Time of War.”

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