Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: The Key to Escaping Grief

Moving on from loss takes time. People grieve in various ways. For young Thea, she grieves the loss of her father by finding comfort through another hero, Harry Houdini. In Margot Connolly’s Keys, finding the key to moving on is explored in great fashion.
Life after her father’s death hasn’t been easy for thirteen year-old Thea. She lives in her own world, finding an allure to Harry Houdini, an American legend she did a school report on. After Thea falls ill, she drifts off into a dream where she meets Houdini himself, hoping he will deliver a message to her father for her. Her meeting with her idol gives Thea the key to acceptance. Keys is a sweet, simple, and endearing play that tugs at your heart. Connolly plays with the theme of escaping loneliness, something both Thea and Houdini have experience in. The parallels between the two characters are uncanny. Though figuring out a smoother way to ease into the Houdini facts may be beneficial. Connolly has a script that is accessible and relatable. Thea’s story is one that is universal, making Keys something special.
photo courtesy of Pam Connolly
Coral Smith as 13 year old Thea is filled with optimizing through her naivety. Smith does a fine job becoming the youngster and running the gamut of emotions. Her journey is quite beautiful to watch. Though she spends some stage time with her mother Beth, played with compassion by Holly Linneman, and her mother’s new boyfriend Steve, played by the delightful Dominik Eisenschmidt, it’s her time with Houdini that is the heart of the show. Sean-Patrick O'Brien as the master of escape Houdini was mysterious and specific, especially in his handcuff acting. He made the character his own and engaged with Smith quite well.
Director Alex Keegan kept the world simple, focusing on Connolly’s story. Keegan brought out the truth and reality of the characters, fantastical or not. Keegan allowed the momentum to remain at a nice pace. Keys has potential to be expanded into a poignant piece for children about loss and grieving. The power and impact in which Keys could have is extraordinary. Keep a look out for this one.

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