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Theater Review: The Body’s Midnight

Keliher Walsh and Jonathan Nichols-Navarro in The Body’s Midnight. Photo by Brian Hashimoto.

The true test of a play is whether it lodges in your brain, compelling you to describe it to others, quote lines and reference it when its themes come up. The Body’s Midnight, now playing at Boston Court in Pasadena, gets an A+ on that test.

The Body’s Midnight is a tale of marriage, family and memory loss that presents a detailed portrait of poet Anne (Keliher Walsh), who at open is trying to remember when a lime tree was planted. Her professor husband David (Jonathan Nichols–Navarro) gently reminds her that they are about to leave on a cross-country road trip to St. Paul to visit their daughter Katie and son-in-law Wolf (Sonal Shah and Ryan W. Garcia, who also play numerous other roles).

Keliher Walsh and Jonathan Nichols-Navarro. Photo by Brian Hashimoto.

Anne and David’s itinerary includes national parks and sites from Anne’s past. Aware that her memory is fading, she wants to do as much as possible before the inevitable. Already her doctor has taken away her driving privilege and her daughter is concerned about the effects of a long road trip. “Your mom’s not made of glass,” David assures Katie.

In fact, Anne is a potty-mouthed force of nature who insists Katie hold the phone to her belly so the baby will recognize her voice when they meet in person. She and David toss out their itinerary after a chance meeting with a quirky prospector (Garcia). They decide to focus their trip on places that, like Anne’s memory, are threatened or already disappearing in recognition that what they see lives on in the synapses.

Whether through environmental issues (Utah’s Pando) or development (places from Anne’s childhood), the destinations add more stress than satisfaction. In each location, there’s an interesting character played by Shah or Garcia who adds color and a somewhat mystical touch. The pair also play Katie and Wolf, the expectant parents.

Ryan Garcia, Sonal Shah in The Body’s Midnight. Photo by Brian Hashimoto.

Anne’s emotional journey and David’s steadfastness in the face of tougher times ahead ground the play as a treatise on marriage. Her knowledge of what she will be putting her family through is as painful as her awareness of what she is losing of her own identity and independence. The play is a wealth of insights on the road trip of life, generously shared through the lens of a loving couple.

Boston Court and IAMA Theatre Company joined forces to produce this powerful world premiere by Tira Palmquist. Boston Court artistic director Jessica Kubzansky directs, while three of the four actors are IAMA members. In introductory remarks on opening night, IAMA’s executive director Cara Greene Epstein noted, “Partnerships are the future of LA theater.” I eagerly look forward to partnerships that bring about theater experiences like The Body’s Midnight.

The Body’s Midnight has performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through May 26. In addition, there will be three weeknight performances: on Monday, May 6; Monday, May 20; and Thursday, May 23, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $65 and are available here. Monday night performances are Pay What You Choose. Boston Court is located at 70 N Mentor Ave. in Pasadena and has free parking in an on-site lot.

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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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