Review: The Shadow Box

The Shadow Box, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $15-$20. Resurrection Theatre at Wilkerson Theatre, 1723 25th Street; (916) 491-0940; Through April 2.
Rated 4.0

Resurrection Theatre’s production of Michael Cristofer’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play The Shadow Box is a many-tissue journey through life, grief and impending death. Not only did many members of the audience get teary-eyed on the show’s opening night while watching how three people in hospice care and their loved ones deal with the inevitable—some cast members were so emotionally committed to their characters that they had tears freely flowing down their checks.

The play takes place in three cottages on hospital grounds, each one housing a terminal patient. Here, the important people in their lives have gathered for goodbyes and the play explores the pain and privileges as well as the confrontations and avoidances of saying goodbye. It also presents philosophical ponderings on the meaning of life, love and mere human existence.

The play is heady and emotional, unveiling three different stories that have aches of recognition for those who have dealt with the challenges, anger, anguish and sometimes peace that death can bring. Both the play and the performances by the Resurrection Theatre’s cast are powerful.

The three cottages house such different stories—the first one is middle-aged man whose wife refuses to deal with his looming demise; the second one is a triangle of a man, his ex-wife and current lover; while the third is the relationship between an elderly dementia patient and her ever-patient daughter. It’s this third story that resonates the strongest—both in the storyline and through the raw and painful performances by Janet Motenko and Adrienne Sher.