The closing weekend of Jon Robin Baitz’s play Other Desert Cities will be January 31 through February 2, 2020. This serious comedy tackles the moral dilemmas of a political family coming to grips with long-held secrets. A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and nominated for five Tony Awards, Other Desert Cities has been a strong audience favorite for almost a decade.
The play which takes place during the Christmas holidays at the Wyeth family’s luxurious home in Palm Springs, California, near “other desert cities”, revolves around the family’s reaction to a book that is about to be published by the daughter, Brooke. She calls it a memoir and tells her perception of the tragic loss of her older brother, Henry in the midst of the Viet Nam conflict.
Peter Heck, in his review in the Chestertown Spy, gave the headline “ Brilliant Church Hill Theatre Cast Shines in Other Desert Cities.” Heck gives the following accolades to the performers: Christine Kinlock as the daughter, Brooke, “effectively conveys the character’s anxiety”….”displaying nervous energy that fills the stage. Kinlock succeeds admirably.”
Regarding the role of Polly, the mother, Heck states Colleen “Minahan portrays the character as initially cold….But as the arguments over the memoir build, the character’s depth emerges…in an excellent performance.” To Kathy Jones as Silda, Polly’s recovering alcoholic sister, Heck comments “Jones captures both sides of Silda’s character to deliver a rounded portrayal of a very real human being. Kudos for a strong performance.”
Brian McGunigle plays Lyman Wyeth, the father, a retired Hollywood actor who also served as an ambassador during the Reagan administration. Regarding his performance, Heck writes “McGunigle brings out the nuances of the father’s character,. …walks a fine line between his wife,….daughter and his own preference to let the past stay in a past. A fine job.”
For Matt Folker as the younger brother, Trip, a successful TV producer, Heck comments as “probably the most laid-back character in the play, he seconds Silda’s attempts of lower the level of tension…yet he too is affected. Very well done—as we’ve come to expect from this fine actor.”
With a set of true California living, designed and built by the director, Michael Whitehill and a perfect lighting design by Doug Kaufmann, and costumes by Debra Ebersole echoing the lifestyle of Palm Springs, Heck recommends “ anyone who enjoys good acting and strong drama with serious insights into human nature should make it a point to see this play.”
Other Desert Cities will run until February 2, 2020. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm. Reservations can be made on line at churchhilltheatre.org or by calling (410) 556-6003.
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