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Sunday, 01 April 2012 21:16

Confusing 'Camden and Lilly'

Written by Shahnaz Ahmed
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Carter W. Lewis' play Camden and Lilly felt like a strange, almost esoteric experience. I didn't understand the plot.

I think it's about the relationship of Camden with his 14 year old sister Lilly, who's a novelist. There is mention of their mother Aurelia, an orchestra conductor dying after the Mayor cut funding to the orchestra. Lilly's novel may or may not be about her recently passed mother, and the presentation of that theme was confusing. There is a theme of one's desire to live an artistic life, but inability to do so, due to societal and financial pressures. There's a theme of Camden's relationship with Layla that distances him from Lilly. There were several themes, but they skipped about happily like bunnies with no predictability or direction.  I also felt the script was overly intellectual. Perhaps a bachelor's degree might not be sufficient to grasp the complexities of this premiere.

Despite the script, I felt the actors performed well. Kiki Milner (as Lilly) turned in a spectacular performance. Kiki's portrayal of Lilly's confusions and compulsions were believable. Pete Winfrey (as Camden) had some good moments on stage, also. I, however, felt a lack of chemistry several times between his character and that of the others. Sarah Palay's performance (as Aurelia) didn't have any effect on me, until she had to sing an aria. It was when the notes echoed through the audience that I was impressed by her presence. Marissa Barnathan (as Layla) had a compelling role. I didn't understand the complexities of her character until she danced. I feel that was the script, and not her performance. Max Rissman played the Mayor.

Andrea Urice did well on directing the play. Andrea's interpretation helped me understand the plot as much as I possibly could have.

The set was very elegant, yet simple. Two main acting spaces - one upstage (a dining room table with a couple of chairs) and one downstage (a dining room table with four chairs). The blue back lighting was effective to set a serious mood. Other acting spaces were created as needed: hedges or an office chair or just space to dance in. Sounds were very well done. There were a couple of times when the sounds of shattering glass is used as a surprise element. I found it very effective.

In general, the play seemed twisted, serious and confusing despite moments of clarity. I realize this review is not direct, but I cannot be direct about a script I did not understand too well. If you like meandering plots, this play might be for you.

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