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A CurtainUp Review
As Wide As I Can See

By Malerie Jo

The details don't matter! — Jessica
At Hand Theatre Companyís As Wide As I Can See takes the audience on an emotional journey through the ups and downs of relationships, employment, roots and self-identity. It's set the Ohio hometown of the writer.

Dean (Ryan Barry) left Ohio to take a dream job as a journalist in Chicago. However he was lured back with sentimentality and duty to run the town's local paper, only to see it taken over (as was much of the town), and finding himself unemployed. His girlfriend, Jessica (Julie Leedes) is a bossy and driven individual who tries to control Dean, because she canít truly control her own life. Her one achievement, buying a house, is in a neighborhood that is falling apart and her waitressing job seems to barely keep her afloat. Her sense of order is further strained by the fact that Deanís childhood friend Tyler (Joshua Levine), live-in girlfriend (Kay Capasso) and their two (soon to be three) children are all living in a trailer in her back yard.

The uneasy relationships of the couples come crashing down when Jessica decides to throw a barbecue. Itís a casual evening until the uncalculated arrival of Dean and Tylerís school friend Charlotte (Melisa Breiner-Sanders) who moved to Portland and married a man Walt (Conan McCarty). Charlotte's arrival forces Dean and Tyler to question what they want, where they are in life and how they got there. As the characters self evaluate old issues and memories resurface, coping mechanisms emerge and the idea of hometown pride and loyalty starts to turn sour.

Playwright Snyder does a good job of introducing the audience to multiple sides of both his native town and the fictional individuals within it. Each character gets to take a journey, display a gambit of emotions and explore their sense of identity. It's both a love story and smear campaign of Snyderís home state. However, overall themes and struggles t seem to shift off and on. In one sentence a character will defend past thoughts and actions and in the next change or condemn them. This does, however, leave you feeling disconnected and unsure of a character' s true sympathies.

When, at one point the controlling Jessica, comically snaps at Dean that ďthe details donít matter!Ē she seems to echo this entire production. While the main elements are all there, it is within the details that the paly is lacking. Similarly, while the overall direction, by Dan Horrigan is logical, the more intense moments donít always peak in the right places . Realizations, emotional breakthroughs and releases often happen a moment too soon or too late for the dialogue. The acting follows in the same vein. The emotions, are present but several lines are struggled through or stumbled over, leaving some dialogue nuances smudged.

The simple, yet littered set provides an ample play place for the cast and creates a sense of order and chaos at the same time. The lighting sets the mood for many scenes, creating a beautiful dusk that can seem dark and daunting, yet romantic and peaceful at the same time.

Despite its imperfections, the play overall is enjoyable and leaves the audience with plenty of idesa to mull over on the way I only wish Snyder and Horrigan had taken a magnifying glass to look at the more minute elements in the ďwideĒ frame picture."

As Wide As I Can See
By Mark Snyder
Directed by Dan Horrigan
Cast: Dean (Ryan Barry), Jessica (Julie Leedes), Tyler (Joshua Levine), Nan (Kay Capasso), Charlotte (Melisa Breiner-Sanders), Walt (Conan McCarty)
Set Design: David L. Arsenault
Costume Design: Nicole Wee
Lighting Design: Josh Bradford
Sound Design: Colin Whitely
Stage Manager: Angela F. Kiessel
Running Time: 2 hours with one 10-minute intermission
Here Arts Center, 145 Avenue of the Americas, (212) 352 3101, here.org. February 23-26, February 28 & 29, March 1-4, March 6-10th 8:30pm Reviewed by Malerie Jo, based on February 29th performance
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