The Attic Ensemble presents “Summer Cyclone,” a contemporary drama, which opened last weekend at the Barrow Mansion in Jersey City. The play, which was written by Amy Fox and directed by Paul Zeller, is part of the Attic Ensemble’s regular fall season and features a spectacular cast of actors. The drama can be seen this weekend on Thursday, Nov. 16 thru Sunday, Nov. 19.
A compelling story
This realistic and poignant story unfolds with Lucia, a young artist in her thirties, joining a clinical drug trial after being diagnosed with cancer. At the hospital she meets a handsome medical student named Eugene, who initially takes interest in her as a doctor, but eventually grows romantically involved. Her disease makes him question the ethics involved in doctor/patient care.
To council him is his father Milton, a doctor who struggles with issues of his own. Lucia is also haunted (literally) by the ghost of her mother Juliet, who died of breast cancer years ago. Juliet disapproves of Lucia’s involvement with Eugene and sites her reasons for it in a list, a lifelong habit that always frustrated Lucia.
Jeremy, Lucia’s ex-husband, is also haunted by images of Juliet and feels compelled to be there for her. He tries to help her through the difficult chemo-therapy sessions, until unresolved issues from their broken marriage get dredged up, forcing the two into an impasse.
The effects of the drugs and her illness make Lucia question everything and she struggles to decide who or what she can hold onto.
Director Paul Zeller leads the small cast of only six actors into strong performances. This is Alexis MacDonald’s (Lucia) second production with the Attic Ensemble. (Fans may have seen her terrific work in “Design For Murder” in September.) MacDonald gives another varied and interesting performance as a cancer patient. There are many facets to Lucia, which are played out to the end depending on who she is talking to.
Mary Ann Murphy (Mother Juliet) positively sparkles onstage. Her portrait of a ghost mother is both melancholy and yet fiercely attached to her daughter. Murphy has appeared in many of the Attic’s productions, including most recently her role as Sophie in “Life, Death, and Vermont.”
Michael Torpey (Eugene) gives a likeable performance as the earnest young med student. Torpey is particularly good opposite Art Delo, who plays the role of his father Milton. Delo uses his terrific voice to convey his feelings toward his son, even when the lines don’t call for it.
Bradley Campbell gives a very focused performance as the ex-husband Jeremy. Rounding out the cast is Ravin Patterson as Reena, whose character provides moral grounding for Eugene.
Paul Zeller has worked with the Attic Ensemble on and off for over 20 years and has directed 10 productions. Writer Amy Fox has written over a dozen plays and the screenplay “Heights,” which premiered at Sundance in 2005. Her writing has received critical notice by her peers and audiences alike. “Summer Cyclone” has been performed in theaters across the country. In this production, other members of the Attic worked behind the scenes to bring Fox’s world to life including: Mark Morchel (scenic design), Marie Bahr (lighting design), Judy Moss (sound design), and Joanne Smith (stage manager).
“Summer Cyclone” runs until Sunday, Nov. 19. All performances are at the Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne St. in the historic downtown area of Jersey City. The show times are: Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday/Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20/ general admission and $15/students & seniors. For more information, call (201) 413-9200 or visit: www.atticensemble.org.