While trying to cope with the loss of sister Margo, Naomi holds on to the little things, literally. Naomi has become a hoader, turning her apartment into a treasure trove of junk. From a Russian stacking doll of boxes to the remains of a pet, Naomi can’t let go of anything. When older sisters Jane and Kara arrive to help Naomi with letting go of the past and the present, instead jabs are tossed and delicate relationships are tested. Francesca Pazniokas’ play is a fascinating exploration of a mental illness that many only view as an entertaining reality show. Pazniokas goes beyond the shock value to reveal the inner struggles of an individual coping with grief. It’s easy to liken Pazniokas’ text to someone like Sarah Ruhl. The world of magical realism is ever-present. But Pazniokas sometimes gets lost in language that the plot falters. There’s a fine line between styles that Pazniokas treads. And when she gets wrapped up in the poetry of her text, the accessibility is gone and the story is lost in the mountains of junk. Regardless, Keep evokes unsettling feelings. When it comes to creating a family, the sisters were a bit one-note. They each had strong action and objective, but it never strayed. The girls lacked depth. It was a very monotonous journey playing the guilt and blame game. That was until reality disappeared to reveal the magical moments. That’s when things seemed to fall apart.
|photo by Russ Rowland|
If you enter TBG Theatre and immediately feel overwhelmed, you should. Alfred Schatz’s set was a perfectly strategic junkyard of memories. As the characters learn, you should be wary of what lies beneath. The labyrinth director Stephanie C. Cunningham had to work with had obstacles, but for the most part, Cunningham triumphed. When it came to the journey of the text, there were some beats lost and transitional flaws. With a balance of naturalism within the magic, blending the two needed to be as seamless as possible. Lighting designer Cate DiGiroiamo had some trouble at times. It’s always important to see the actors but when the script has a blackout moment, darkness is believable is imperative. The stage darkness didn’t quite read. The transitional music from J. Alexander Diaz was an interesting classical synthesized vibe. And it seemed to work. It prevented the mood to drop to a deep despair.
There are times in storytelling that a plot can’t be wrapped up neatly. Sometimes it ends ambiguously. Sometimes it’s more abrupt. But whatever the case may be, it needs to feel complete. When the audience is unsure if it's the end, it's not a good sign. Keep’s ending was a telling sign of the piece. Confusion. There is a lot of promise in this piece, the execution was just not where it needed to be.