Though short in its runtime and performance schedule, the Mugford Street Players’ production of Georgette Beck’s Claire de Lune is a potent, emotionally driven memory play that wonderfully portrays a lifetime of trials and tribulations in less than an hour. At times bordering on the avant-garde, Claire de Lune is very hard to describe aesthetically due to the minimalist quality of set. Despite being a multiple act, multiple scene play, the set (consisting of a clothesline, two chairs, and two baskets of clothing) remains the same. It is through the imagination of the actors and the audience that the scene changes from an outdoor clothesline in the 1950s to the backdrop of a 70s and a myriad of other seemingly different locations. Though in text a suspension of belief this intense may seem difficult, the prowess of the direction and the acting makes this fluid and easy for everyone involved.
The play follows the lives of Andrea (portrayed by Kristine Burke) and Grayson (Maureen Bucell) from the fourth grade into late adulthood. Despite the extremely long range of time, both Burke and Bucell are the only ones who portray their characters. This, of course, leads to some innocently hilarious scenes early on with both Burke and Bucell acting as their childhood selves, but it works. The growth of the characters is in a different dimension altogether; instead of having a sort-of physical analogue to base age off of, the passing of time is expressed through the evolution of their dialogue and vocal attitudes. It’s interesting to view the aging of two people solely through dialogue and minimal costume changes, and is unlike anything I’ve seen before. However, I cannot imagine this play being structured any other way.
The story is told from the perspective of Andrea, who not only serves as the lead, but also as the narrator. In strategic places, she breaks the fourth wall to either explain things that are happening, provide back-story, or to tell the audience what time it is. Though repeated fourth-wall breaking can become cliché and boring, the usage of it in Claire de Lune is as fluid as it is necessary. Because of the perspective of this play, the evolution of Andrea isn’t at the forefront. The main change we see throughout the play is that of Grayson, whose constant evolution from year-to-year is intense, to say the least. Fortunately, Maureen Bucell does an utterly flawless and seamless job with this daunting character, and brings her to life in an impressive manner.
The beautiful minimalism of Georgette Beck’s Claire de Lune is seamless and, at times, remarkable. The very tight-knit cast combined with director John Fogle’s auteurist approach makes Claire de Lune a remarkably emotional memory play. It’s limited run only makes the play more enticing.
Claire de Lune
through June 30 (only four shows)
The Salem Theatre Company
For more information, please go to www.salemtheatre.com
Chris Ricci is the Editorial Assistant at North Shore Art*Throb.