Know’s “Alabaster” is Simply Powerful
Posted On March 1, 2020
Review by Liz Eichler of “Alabaster”: Know Theater
“Maggie Lou Rader’s performance is spectacular for her vulnerability, her range, her power, and damn, she’s just amazing”
“Alabaster” is a superbly presented production of some very difficult issues. It exalts the strength of women who have lived through trauma and shows the fragility of life. It may not be suited for anyone still raw from a tragic loss, but Maggie Lou Rader’s performance is spectacular for her vulnerability, her range, her power, and damn, she’s just amazing. “Alabaster” is written by Alabama writer Audrey Cefaly, and part of the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.
“Alabaster” is a play about June (Rader) who has isolated herself up on her farm in Alabaster, GA, with her goats and her paintings to keep her company. A professional photographer Alice played by Kelly Mengelkoch) comes to the farm, adding June to a work about women with scars; clearly she has invisible scars of her own. The two have a magnetic attraction but the poles keep turning. June is a very difficult person, even before the accident, and Alice is focused on hiding her past. The play is narrated by a goat, Weezy (Keisha L. Kemper) both wise and sarcastic, caring for her elderly mom Bib (Jodie Beth Linver).
You will lose yourself in the performance, as Rader is mesmerizing. Actually, they all are. It is told not only from June’s perspective, but also from Weezy’s POV–and she knows she is a goat. Sometimes you need more than one perspective of your story, because you cannot see it all. It is Weezy who share’s the memorable line “It’s not not love to walk away.” How do you know when it is time after a tragedy to move on? When does a period of necessary healing move into something that traps you?
Ultimately there is a very uncomfortable juxtaposition, where the goats take focus (for me) and the people are just foolishly shouting. The beauty and depth of those quiet moments with Weezy and Bib are transcendent.
Lovingly directed by Lisa Sanaye Dring, this complicated story is told with amazing visual and auditory support, spare but perfect. Andrew Hungerford’s wind worn scenery is solid yet transparent enough for Doug Borntrager’s projections and sound. Jennifer Fok’s lighting gently shifts your focus or rips you apart in a thunderstorm. Noelle Wedig Johnston’s costumes are simple and textured.
Get your tickets now for one of the strongest performances you will ever see. “Alabaster” plays through March 21. Get your tickets by calling 513-300-KNOW or go to knowtheatre.com
Liz Eichler has her BA and MTA in Theatre and an MBA in Marketing. She’s been a professional costumer and marketer, now teaching Marketing and Digital Marketing at University of Dayton and has been with LCT for over 8 years.