Review: Brilliant Traces

Every time a lumberjack gets married, a star dies.

Every time a lumberjack gets married, a star dies.

Photo courtesy of Ovation Stage

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. Ovation Stage, Three Penny Theatre, 1721 25th Street; (916) 606-5050; Through July 9.
Rated 4.0

There’s a blizzard swirling around a remote Alaskan cabin when the door suddenly slams open and a force of nature in the form of a wedding-dress-wearing woman bursts inside. Oblivious to the blanketed figure cowering in the corner, the woman begins an endless rant while gulping whiskey she finds on the small wooden table. Thus begins Cindy Lou Johnson’s Brilliant Traces, currently being staged by Ovation Stage.

It’s a thought-provoking, mesmerizing and awkward dance of two strangers finding themselves confronting each other and each of their pasts. Because of the small, confined cabin setting and two-person cast, this is a production that needs two strong leads under steady, solid direction. And that’s just what Ovation Stage brings to this rendition of the show: the talented duo of Carissa Meagher and Brandon Lancaster are a perfectly synced pair even when the characters they play are warily circling around each other. Each gives a credible and memorable performance, all under the watchful eye of director Lori Russo.

The tiny Three Penny Theatre is a perfect venue for the setting of a small claustrophobic cabin that strains to contain the burgeoning emotions of two troubled souls. And special nod to the set design, and in particular scenic artist Kellie Horner, who painted a majestic Alaskan snow-capped landscape and night sky that hugs this tiny cabin.

Brilliant Traces’ dialogue has many beautiful, provocative and, at times, disturbing moments, and the slow reveals are intriguing, though sometimes come across as plots of convenience. But Meagher and Lancaster totally commit to their characters and storylines, and present exceptional performances that linger and resonate long after the stage lights dim.