Saturday, April 2, 2016

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Theater on the Avenue for a Song!

While small theaters all over town are scrambling to find new spaces as old venues close, Avenue Stage has established a cozy home at the Dot 2 Dot Café in Dorchester. There are at least a dozen reasons to think outside the box and search it out. This year is Arthur Miller’s centenary and there isn’t anywhere else you can see his bittersweet 1987 play, I CAN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING (playing through April 9th.)

Those of us who remember the halcyon days of Irish theater in Boston will be delighted to see Jennifer Jones back on stage, starring opposite Geoffrey Pingree as two aging friends who lament the loss of their former lives. As they combat their feelings of uselessness, they find fault in each other: He grumbles that she drinks all his liquor. She accuses him of not facing the reality of their hopelessness. He blames her for his hypertension.

Their amusing bickering bubbles below the surface as the two friends try to recall fading memories of their glory days… try to find reasons to go on, as Miller quips “adding triviality to the boredom of existence.” Director Michael O’Halloran and company compose a moving portrait of the stresses in a relationship, working beneath the dialogue to show us the affection, even as the characters threaten never to see each other again.

The highlight of the play is a lovely, sensual dance, a magical moment where Jones brings romance to life. She becomes the young dazzler again, undulating to the rhythms of the sitar, the center of attention, the object of desire. With that dance, Jones creates all that has been lost to them. It’s heartbreaking and triumphant at the same time. And you can imagine what Miller must have felt at the end of his life, when his best plays (best years?) were behind him, as so many critics took pains to point out.

Have I mentioned that this gem of a play comes with dinner…for the price of a fringe theater ticket! A two course gourmet meal invented by master chef Karen Henry-Garrett! If I were a food critic, I’d give the Dot 2 Dot Café and Henry-Garrett my top pick. There are four entrees to choose from and three desserts. The rich, luxurious vegetarian pasta puttanesca was a hearty, savory choice and her tarte tatin was an opulent surprise, contrasting caramel apples with a crunchy crust of puff pastry. Even presentation was a treat at Dot 2 Dot.

This isn’t your grandfather’s dinner theater experience. It’s an event. Don’t miss out on this embarrassment of riches.