Ah, the Beauty of Life in Ah, Wilderness!
A young, idealistic man in love, his patient and understanding father, a grand 'ol booze-hound of an uncle, and an unforgettable story of the love that leads them through the untamed wilds of life ... such is Atholton High School's jovial production of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!
It is July 4, 1906, when young and old come together to celebrate their independence (often from each other) and the Miller family is almost happy. Richard Miller, lost in the prose of the new, "cutting-edge" authors, uses their words to express his love to his girlfriend, Muriel McComber. Discovering the arduous poems Richard has written, Mr. McComber terminates the relationship. Angry and wounded, Richard goes off in search of "life," which takes the form of a painted harlot and a good, stiff drink. What happens to the youth as he discovers the truth about life and love is the subject of Atholton's endearing production.
An engaging group of lead performers gives energy to the show. As Richard, David Calder showcases not only the fierce spirit of rebellion inherent in teen-agers, but also the uncertainty of teetering on the threshold of adulthood. Peyton Johns gracefully balances Nat Miller's roles of doting father and strong patriarch. His final confrontation with Richard at the end of the play is brilliant, as father and son give each other a new lease on life. As the "reformed drunk" Uncle Sid, Evan Sanderson is hilarious, especially in his relationship with Aunt Lily, played with silent intensity by Kristin Servary.
As Dave McComber, Robert Grimm's austere appearance and conservative monotone garnered laughter during his first entrance. Larry Komrower, Angela Pipitone and Heather Overall acted well together as Richard's siblings, and Stacey Weisner was a voluptuous Belle.
Bright lighting and polished sets accented the crisp costumes of the actors. While a few scene changes were too visible, the stage crew moved quickly and efficiently. On Saturday night, the sound system was a little soft, which the performers usually overcame with strong vocal projection.
With quality performances and wonderful interactions, Atholton High School's Ah, Wilderness! took O'Neill's clever story and served up a lighthearted romp through life's little struggles.
Atholton High School presented Ah, Wilderness! on Nov. 6-9.