Playwright: Lee Blessing
Company: Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
Venue: Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 East Cache La Poudre, Colorado Springs CO.
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission)
Date of Performance: Thursday, October 15, 2015 (Opening Night).
Dystopia is the opposite of Utopia. It’s Utopia gone bad, and Lee Blessing’s Lonesome Hollow is such a dystopian story. Blessing imagines a world where sexual deviance, pornography, and pedophilia are eliminated. Criminals disappear into Lonesome Hollow forever, and rights we commonly take for granted disappear as well.
Blessing’s script is a compelling and disturbing example of taking righteous moral clarity to it’s logical conclusion. In world seen in black and white, no shades of gray are tolerated. One is either evil or good; there is no other option.
Springs Ensemble Theatre (SET) plunges the audience into this sexual slammer, fully immersing every person in the room in the quicksand that is Lonesome Hollow. Director Jonathan Margheim spins a taut tale that dares us to look away.
|Emory John Collinson (Nye) and Taylor Geiman (Tuck).|
There is not a false note in any of the performances in Lonesome Hollow, but it is Emory John Collinson (Nye) who drives the story. Collinson hits all his targets; he’s got the southern accent, the nervous twitches, and the defiant, desperate attitude Blessing created for him. Nye is a complicated character, but one that Collinson handles with sincerity, sympathy, and even some humor.
Taylor Geiman (Tuck) is also splendid; he’s the best inmate in Lonesome Hollow. Geiman emanates a boyish innocence; Tuck seems an unlikely candidate for the dungeon. The role is physically as well as emotionally demanding. Geiman spends Act 2 dragging himself on his knees through a labyrinth of his own making.
Rachel Baker (Mills) has the acting chops to be the bad cop and the good cop. Evil in the
first act, Baker is sincere and compassionate in the second. Her broad emotional range here is visible proof that she has mastered her character and her craft.
|Rachel Baker (Mills) & Steve Emily (Glover).|
Steve Emily (as Glover, the prison counselor/chief enforcer) is the truly evil character in this sinister story. Emily shows his devious side here, spouting platitudes while inflicting cruel punishment for the slightest infraction. He’s the warden you never want to meet if you have to do some time.
Sarah Shaver is Pearl (Tuck’s sister). Shaver has a fine maternal mode she uses for Lonesome Hollow as she tries to balance motherhood with sisterhood. She must choose one or the other; Lonesome Hollow won’t let her save both her children and her brother. It’s an excruciating conflict, and Shaver plays it out at full tilt for the audience.
The technical aspects of Lonesome Hollow work well; random muffled gunshots are heard outside the prison walls. Crystal Carter and Gabriel Espinoza-Lira combined to create a simple set; a bench sitting in the middle of a brick and rock labyrinth (not to be confused with a maze) set into the stage floor.
The labyrinth is also plot device; one can only decide whether to enter it or not. That’s a metaphor for the dystopia Blessing has created for us; we must decide whether or not to enter it. Once entered, it is a single path to the center, whatever that may be. There is no path out of Lonesome Hollow, only a path into it.
|Sarah Shaver (Pearl) & Taylor Geiman (Tuck).|
A dystopian plot creates an alternate reality that might come true. Lonesome Hollow may seem to be an unlikely future at first glance. However, given a small but vocal fundamentalist movement towards theocracy, and the fact that some of our neighbors seem eager for a real Lonesome Hollow, Blessing’s story is both credible fiction and a wake up call. This is gripping theater and a scary ride into a bleak future that few of us would choose.
This show has adult content, adult language, and nudity. Not recommended for children.
There is ample free parking in front of the the theater and on surrounding streets.
This show closes on November 1, 2015.
PHOTO CREDITS: Springs Ensemble Theatre Company/Emory John Collinson & Jenny Maloney
PRE/POST SHOW DINING RECOMMENDATION:
There's not a lot of restaurant choices near the Springs Ensemble Theatre, but there is one that we definitely like: China Village at 203 North Union. Fast, friendly, affordable, and always delicious, China Village is a full service sit down Chinese (Szechuan & Mandarin Cuisine) dining experience. As you enter, look to your right to see the amazing carved tree trunk. We had the "family dinner," (2 person minimum) which includes soup, appetizers, rice, and an entree for $13.95. I had the Sesame Chicken, my all time favorite.
|China Village: Sesame Chicken.|
There is so much food in the family dinner that you're likely to get enough leftovers for another meal. China Village is about a 3 minute drive to/from the Springs Ensemble Theatre.
Director: Jonathan Margheim
Assistant Diretor: Crystal Carter
Technical Director: Gabe Espinoza-Lira
Co-Producers: Steve Emily, Jenny Maloney, Matt Radcliffe
Scenic design: June Scott Barfield
Lighting Design: Brianna Pilon
Sound Design: Pat Collins
Costume Design: Emory John Collinson
Tuck: Taylor Geiman
Nye: Emory John Collinson
Mills: Rachel Baker
Glover: Steve Emily
Pearl: Sarah S. Shaver