Theatre Reviews
Photo by Joey Rumpell courtesy of The Midnight Company

“The Years” by Cindy Lou Johnson is the story of two sets of cousins and their intertwining lives over three family events that span sixteen years. An alternate title could be “Two Weddings And A Funeral” but the similarity to the film would end there. Sisters Andrea and Eloise are the brides in the aforementioned weddings and siblings Isabella and Andrew attend to them accordingly. Before the initial wedding, bride Andrea is robbed by a sympathetic stranger who, as fate would have it, is then entangled in their lives and subsequent events.

The Midnight Company’s Artistic Director, Joe Hanrahan produced “The Years” a while ago for The Orthwein Theatre Company and was so intrigued by it he decided to bring it to his own company as part of the 2023 season. It works well in the intimate space of The Chapel, especially with the simple and understated set designed by Brad Slavik. The lighting designed by Tony Anselmo also serves the story nicely, as do the costumes designed by Liz Henning. Fight choreographer Michael Pierce does a great job staging the robbery convincingly in a small space where everything is seen up close by the audience.

Summer Baer plays older sister Eloise with just the right amount of humor and pathos. Joey File is the standout as cousin Andrew, questioning the reasoning behind the institution of marriage and standing up for his life choices. Ashley Bauman as Isabella, Andrew’s sister, is never quite convincing and stays on one annoying note of the nagging sister for most of the play. Alicen Moser as Andrea gives a masterclass in hand gesturing which becomes distracting and sadly never achieves any emotional arcs for her character. Joseph Garner plays Bartholomew the sympathetic mugger. He alternates between over-the-top manic and beyond low-key. But in neither scenario do we see an actual real person.

Ultimately the fault lies with the play, in my opinion. The story doesn’t give us enough plot or clarity to really understand who these people are or why we should care about them. As hard as the director and actors work to make us care, in the end I just didn’t. But I may have been in the minority, and certainly Hanrahan found enough to care about these characters to want to spend some significant time with them twice.
 “The Years” at The Chapel presented by The Midnight Company runs through July 29th. For tickets and information visit The Midnight Company website.

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