Review: ‘Alabaster’ at Capital Stage


Tornado survivor, June (Stephanie Altholz) is interviewed by a curious photographer (Susan Maris).

Tornado survivor, June (Stephanie Altholz) is interviewed by a curious photographer (Susan Maris).

Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

Wed 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 2/23; $27-$44; Capital Stage, 2215 J St., (916) 995-5464,
Rated 4.0

When a tough-talking, wise-assing goat bounds onstage at the start of Capital Stage’s Alabaster, it's a clear sign that a quirky play lies ahead. Weezy the goat (Amy Kelly) faces the audience and introduces us to a small Southern farm and its owner June (Stephanie Altholz). Both the farm and June were severely damaged by a violent tornado that swept through their area many years ago.

From the farm's outside, we switch to June's bedroom, where an interview is being set up by visiting photographer Alice (Susan Maris). Alice is there to chronicle the tragedy and ongoing struggles that have left June with major physical and emotional scars. June is just one of many women that photographer Alice is interviewing around the country for a book to illustrate how victims deal with permanent, visual wounds.

What playwright Audrey Cefaly does so successfully in Alabaster is a slow reveal of the tragedies that both June and Alice have dealt with, as well as the visible and invisible scars the two have struggled with over time. It's deeply moving and raw, with a four-member cast that slowly reels us into this unexpectedly sensitive and captivating story.

Director Kristin Clippard carefully keeps the pace steady and the characters connected with each other and the audience. Altholz and Maris are powerful in their performances, creating believable, complicated characters. Kelly plays Weezy with comedic and sensitive aplomb, while Janet Motenko as an elderly goat who simply emits sad bleats manages to come across as a fully formed personality.