Let’s Review: Resolution of a tragic conflict unfolds in ‘Mandate Memories’ at North Coast Rep. Don’t miss it.
By Diana Saenger
Marty Burnett’s beautiful set design for North Coast Repertory Theatre (NCRT)’ “Mandate Memories” eases audience members into their seats with unknown expectations of what will take place in the lovely garden of the English Jane Stirling or her cozy living room filled with endless shelves of books and many family portraits.
It’s while Jane (Rosina Reynolds) is tending to her flowers that her guest, a total stranger who phoned that he had something to give her, rings the doorbell. Jane removes her apron, gloves, changes her shoes and literally takes her time to open the door.
In walks 80-year-old Gustav Frolich (Apollo Dukakis). He hands over his hat but remains out of reach for Jane to take his trench coat as he flits about the room giving Jane one extravagant compliment about her house after another.
He questions her about family photos throwing a little in about himself as he digs deeper into her life. He announces he’s Jewish and from Israel. Jane’s tightly gathered feathers of composure become ruffled as he begins to annoy her with his digging. She’s also uneasy as her father, whom she never met, was killed by Jewish forces.
Eventually Gustav reveals he knows a lot about Jane and why for many years he’s kept a secret eye on her. She tries to understand what he’s saying but then Gustav goes off on tangents about churches, film noir, pubs and anything to distract her. Slowly Jane drags bits of info out of her mysterious visitor much like a dog pulling on a sock held by its owner.
Reynolds is a fine actress and frequent one of the NCRT, but in this play she really exceeds. She’s a trifecta running in three different circles. What has this man come to tell her that keeps her suspicion on hand? Revealing to her he knows intimate details about her life infuriates Jane and Reynolds’ intense reactions leaves no Jane would like to thrown him out. When the final detail about Gustav’s visit is on the table, Jane must exit the room and stand solidly shaken in her small garden.
Gustav is equally matched with talent in hopping around the room as Gustav. He reveals he is a Holocaust survivor and was in a concentration camp. He quizzes Jane on subjects that pop up out of the blue as if he was a high authority on the job.
Lionel Goldstein’s play is full of politics and history about the British Mandate for Palestine, and it’s evenly disseminated among these two characters’ conversations and physical reactions.
NCRT’s Artistic Director David Ellenstein does a great job in keeping the pop boiling without letting it spill over. Both actors are commended for the very long pages of dialogue they had to learn, and for keeping what could have been a dull subject vibrant throughout the play.
If you go
What: “Mandate Memories”
When: Now through May 4
Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre
987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
Tickets: From $37 (Senior/Student & Military discount save $3 per ticket with valid I.D.)
Box Office: (858) 481-1055
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