Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: ICEBOUND (Metropolitan Playhouse)

by Dmitry Zvonkov on September 24, 2014

in Theater-New York

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THE GOOD, THE LOST, AND THE VAIN

Owen Gould Davis, Sr.’s thoughtful and masterfully crafted 1923 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Icebound, which explores Puritan vanity and its many ironies, gets an admirable staging by Alex Roe and his all-around excellent cast at the Metropolitan Playhouse. Though not particularly startling or revolutionary, the show is good, solid theater—nearly flawless in fact—and deserves to be seen.

Olivia Killingsworth and Quinlan Corbett in ICEBOUND at Metropolitan Playhouse. Photo by Jacob J. Goldberg.

Descendants of early New England settlers, the Jordan clan—Henry Jordan (Kelly King), his wife Emma (Maria Silverman) and her daughter Nettie (Michelle Geisler), Henry’s sister Sadie Fellows (Alyssa Simon), her son Orin (Connor Barth), the spinster Ella Jordan (Anne Bates), who is Henry and Sadie’s sister, and their young brother Ben (Quinlan Corbett), the black sheep of the family who is now a fugitive from the law—anxiously await the ascendance of their wealthy dying matriarch to the bosom of the Lord. (Additional cast members are Gregory Dann as the sheriff Jim Jay; Victor Barranca as Dr. Curtis; Sidney Fortner as Hannah; and Rob Skolits as the Judge.) Except for Ben and Nettie, all the Jordans are desperate to appear pious and modest and plain, lest the neighbors speak badly of them. In fact they are all greedy, heartless, weak little creatures just waiting for the old woman to croak so they can get all her money.

Rob Skolits, Michelle Geisler, Connor Barth, Maria Silverman, Alyssa Simon, Kelly King, Anne Bates, and Quinlan Corbett in ICEBOUND at Metropolitan Playhouse. Photo by Stephen Leong.

The matriarch’s twenty-three-year-old maid, Jane Crosby (Olivia Killingsworth), finds herself in the midst of this unfriendly brood. Meek and plain, at first she blends into the background; but soon she emerges at the center of this story, and before long we realize that this young woman is a veritable saint. As such, Ms. Killingsworth invests her character with great love and sadness, delivering a moving portrayal. It’s not often one sees deep spirituality portrayed so convincingly in American theater, but she does an outstanding job.

Olivia Killingsworth and Anne Bates in ICEBOUND at Metropolitan Playhouse. Photo by Stephen Leong.

With scrupulous attention to detail, Mr. Roe’s precise and intelligent direction works well to bring out the nuances and humor in Davis’s script. His actors are incredibly at ease in their roles, as though they were born into Sidney Fortner’s lovely period costumes on Roe’s rustic set—with its plain wooden furniture and sawdust on the floor. The intimate, black-box space makes the action feel all the more immediate, intensifying our connections to the characters, as we find ourselves sitting practically inside their living room.

Maria Sivlerman and Connor Barth in ICEBOUND at Metropolitan Playhouse. Photo by Ed Forti.

Kelly King and Olivia Killingsworth in ICEBOUND at Metropolitan Playhouse. Photo by Lois Seligman.photos by Ed Forti, Jacob J. Goldberg,
Stephen Leong, and Lois Seligman

Icebound
Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 E 4th Street
scheduled to end on October 19, 2014
for tickets, call 800-838-3006
or visit www.metropolitanplayhouse.org

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