Review: Arlington

“Wait, I thought you were ‘over there’?”

“Wait, I thought you were ‘over there’?”

Photo courtesy of Three Penny Stage

Arlington; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. Three Penny Stage in the R25 Arts Complex, 1723 25th Street; (916) 451-5822; Through May 1.
Rated 4.0

Arlington, a so-called “chamber musical” now running at Three Penny Stage, is an impressive piece of drama that starts off cheerfully enough but darkens as its hour progresses. It’s a musical for solo voice and piano, a one-woman opera of sorts with all lyrics spoken or sung to musical accompaniment.

Analise Langford-Clark—she of an open visage and sweet soprano—stars in this story of young military wife Sara Jane trying to keep spirits up while her husband Jerry (Jonathan Blum, seen only through a scrim that is one wall of the three-sided stage) serves somewhere “over there.” Sara Jane immediately breaks the fourth wall, conversationally addressing the audience, reminiscing and ruminating about her life, past and present.

She especially remembers a powerful visit with her father to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the national cemetery of the title. She frets and wonders a bit about today’s visit from her mother, who has just had another “PS”—plastic surgery. And she thinks about Jerry, about pictures he has sent, about the horrible conditions he’s endured and the terrible acts he’s been a part of.

It’s these thoughts that bring her to disturbing realizations about the devastation of war that are almost too much to bear.

Arlington is smartly directed by Bob Irvin, known for his work with the Fair Oaks Theatre Festival, where he has previously worked with both Langford-Clark and Blum.