By Elizabeth Ann Foster
It is week 11 of the Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse, and they keep outdoing themselves. They are not only theater; it is a history lesson, art lesson and therapy morphed to make an intimate virtual space experience.
The latest offering Ever Young is a one-act play casting four older women written by Alice Gerstenberg. Set in the famed Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach, this play covers a large territory considering the actors sit in wicker chairs and comment on happenings in the grand lobby. The chairs the actors sit in on zoom were virtual backdrops ingeniously designed by Pamela Lawton. The audience is virtually sitting at the table Mrs. Paige-Dexter commands. One becomes part of the intimate conversation that witnessing it on a stage from your seat could not accomplish.
The Royal Poinciana Hotel.
We get to eavesdrop on a foursome from 100 years ago. We see what was in style in Palm Beach and how the privileged conducted themselves. Secrets unfold, and the audience gets an intimate glimpse into relationships along with a history lesson. Many questions get answered, but one puzzle remains. How Mrs. Paige can give up her fiancee to another woman. She was just given a lustrous strand of pearls, which was the envy of the gathering.
The dramaturgy by Jon Lonoff helps set the stage and explains many of the references in the play. Due to the historical context and detailed research provided by Lonoff, the audience gains a greater appreciation of the act. This is the fourth one-act play by Alice Ginsberg to be performed during this series.
From the radio audience, my mother said, “that woman with the pearls had the best, clearest voice.” Mom is blind and hard of hearing. She instructs her device Alexa to put on 99.5 and gets all dressed up for virtual theater. She wore a blue and white dress this week for the occasion. During this time of social distancing and isolation, it is an excellent community service to broadcast the series.
The Metropolitan Playhouse presents plays unique to the American theater experience and heritage. This play is representative of a moment in our nation’s history. Alex Roe led a conversation with the actors exploring their feelings on performing this play and putting it in the context of our current struggle to improve as a country. A lively insightful debate over the characters ensued. The takeaway is to get out and vote – this play was written a year after women were given the vote. Every vote, every person, and every breath matters.
Thanks once again to the Metropolitan Playhouse for their continuous innovation. By creating and performing, virtual playhouse actors are continuing to present their art and the public continues to get its fix of the theater weekly.
Ever Young – by Alice Gertsenberg, directed by Alex Roe.
With – Sidney Fortner (Mrs. Blanchard), Wendy Merritt (Mrs. Dorchester) Kim Yancey Moore (Mrs. Paige), Rosina Fernhoff (Mrs. Paine-Dexter).
Background by Pamela Lawton. Dramaturgy by Jon Lanoff.
Metropolitan Playhouse 220 E 4th Street New York 10009 http://metropolitanplayhouse.org/virtualplayhouseSaturday, June 6, 2020, virtual lobby open starting at 7:55. Reading begins at 8:00 pm. The next live show is Saturday, June 13, 2020, at 8 pm. Available on Zoom link posted on the website for weekly live viewing, YouTube and broadcast on Pacifica 99.5. No charge to join and watch live Zoom production or to watch on archives. Please consider a donation instead of a ticket to the Artist Relief Fund and to 99.5 in the Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse name. Information about the theater’s ARTISTS RELIEF FUND found at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/covidaid. Running time 40 minutes. Talkback to follow, including audience questions via Zoom and YouTube chat.