After a nearly solid run at FringeNYC, Andrea Alton's Possum Creek returns at the Celebration of Whimsey, or the C.O.W., for an encore engagement. Written and performed by Alton, Possum Creek chronicles the letters the loveably naive Beth Ann as she pines for her recently departed Civil War soldier husband. Many many years pass as Beth Ann keeps hope, hoping for a loving reunion with her one true love.
Using the device of an educational documentary to share Beth Ann’s love saga, Possum Creek is a delicate comedy that is layered with hidden gems that garner a great deal of laughs, both big belly and those awkward giggles. Beth Ann, the character that Alton has brought to life, is brilliantly naïve and gladly optimistic. With the Civil War as the backdrop, Alton is able to fill her script with elusive jabs at social issues that are still an issue today. And when you pick up on them, that’s when you can’t help but smile at the intricate details Alton has put into the piece. Aside from the big picture, Possum Creek and Beth Ann is an entirely relatable character. Sure, her optimism is outlandish, it adds to the truths of love. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve all waited for our one true love. Some of us are still waiting. Others, have closure. Beth Ann longs to be reunited but she also thrives for human connection. During her waiting game, Beth Ann encounters an abundance of loss in which she makes up for in new companionship. In her thirty year journey, Beth Ann goes on a journey of self-exploration, discovering the truths of society, love, even sex. And while we easily can laugh at her experiences, it’s the honesty of the character that makes Possum Creek shine. To give this piece life, Alton adopts an assortment of other characters. The production features a slideshow of portraits that give face to the characters Beth Ann refers to in her letters. And Alton expertly gives them a voice. Alton is a strong character actress. Like Beth Ann, Alton breathes life into them. The strongest of which happens to be the blind Pastor who needs his own spin-off.
Despite some technical woes, Possum Creek was clean and clear. Director Eric Chase guided Alton on her journey from happiness to despair to confusion to acceptance to happiness once again. Chase helped Alton find the characterization of each individual, giving each a unique quirk including Beth Ann’s signature signature and hilarious little death cough. The dress designed by Anthony Catanzaro was exquisite. It called out to the period but also fit Beth Ann’s personality perfectly. Even the way Alton interacted with the dress that, at times, could have been overwhelming, was wonderful.
After thirty years, you had to wonder if Beth Ann would ever be reunited with her one true love. And in the end, she did. And it’s so ridiculously fitting. It proves that the moral of the story is everyone can have a happy ending if you put your heart into it. You can’t help but feel happy when you leave. Even if you’re still waiting for your person, Andrea Alton has given you hope. Possum Creek highlights the perseverance of character and actor, never giving up, no matter what is throw their way.