Rep Stage revives Barrie plays

J.M. Barrie, creator of "Peter Pan," deserves wider recognition for his other works. Rep Stage is doing its part with the revival of two subtly emotional, World War I-vintage plays, deftly directed by Michael Stebbins.

"The New World," from 1915, takes place in a London drawing room. "Rogie" Torrance is to depart soon for the army. His mother wants him to have quality time alone with his father first, but this is a family with major hang-ups about closeness. Bill Largess is telling as the buttoned-up father. Jason Odell Williams neatly captures Rogie's trepidation, suppressed tenderness and pride. Valerie Lash and Christine Demuth ably fill out the cast.

In 1917, when Barrie penned "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals," no illusions about the war were left. Well, almost none. A charwoman, Mrs. Dowey, feels so left out that she concocts an imaginary loved one at the front, never expecting he could materialize. Barrie sprinkles the unlikely scenario with humor and develops it with great poignancy.

Maureen Kerrigan, a marvelous actress, makes Mrs. Dowey a terribly affecting figure. Williams gives an involving performance as Private Dowey, transitioning from cocky and annoyed to bemused and melted with abundant nuance. The supporting cast does colorful work.

These unpretentious plays provide fascinating snapshots of an era. The evocative Rep Stage production brings them smartly into focus.

Performances continue through Oct. 24 at Howard Community College. Call 443-518-1500 or go to repstage.org. For the complete theater review, go to baltimoresun.com/dramaqueens.

Tim Smith

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