Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Aunt Doris Vander Putten: Stage Star


'Shadow Box' has superb set, fine acting

For the Journal

The Adobe Theater's choice of Michael Cristofer's "The Shadow Box" is an interesting one as a post-holiday production.

On the one hand, it's about terminal patients and the wintry, bleak moments they and their friends and family must endure; on the other hand, as


the days lengthen and new roots stir under the earth, it's about death as a rebirth, a beginning, as well as an ending.

SB is a trilogy, with three stories in three cottages on the grounds of a "large hospital in (pre-AIDS) 1977."

The first cottage houses Joe (Tom Monahan), who is dying; his wife, Maggie (Erin Moody); and their son Stephen (Simon -Blair), who hasn't been told that his father is dying.

Brian (Darren Pierrot) inhabits the center cottage. His lover, Mark (Mark Pino), starts out whiny, sulky and annoying, as if he were the only victim in this tragedy; then Brian's ex-wife, Beverly (Marcia Tippit), swishes in acting like Sally Bowles in "Cabaret." Mark does not like her.

The third cottage is home to an older woman in a wheelchair. Felicity (Doris Vander Putten) is with her grown 

daughter Agnes (Connie McElyea), who is not the favored child but is the child who is there.

Acting generally gets the first mention in a review, and good as the acting is here, it is Dawn Mullins' superb set deserves first mention this time.

Each cottage has its own personality, from the trellised flowers at the door of Joe's cottage to the simple gingham of Felicity's and Brian's in the middle, bright red, with a unfurled fan on the wall and an orange lava lamp center stage.

If you go

WHAT: "The Shadow Box" by Michael Cristofer, directed by Robert Johnson 

WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., I through Jan. 28

WHERE: The Adobe Theater, 9813 Fourth NW, two blocks north of Alameda

HOW MUCH: tickets are available at the theater for $10, students and seniors, $8: For information and reservations, call 898-9222

The acting? Fine all around, with special mention due to young Simon Blair as Stephen who has a guitar piece for his dad "that's not that good but not that bad, either," and to Tippet, who never looked more glamorous and never inhabited a character with more confidence.

Director Robert Johnson gets praise for the invisibility of his work -- that's good directing.

(Click on Picture for Enlargement)

Aunt Doris (in plaid bathrobe) stars as Felicity