Theatre Review: SHARON (World Premiere at Cygnet Theatre in San Diego)

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by Dan Zeff on June 18, 2023

in Theater-Regional,Theater-San Diego


Cygnet Theatre’s new play Sharon is set in Everett, Washington, 90 minutes from Seattle. The time is 2019. The action is concentrated in the parlor of a dilapidated apartment building operated by a middle-aged woman named Sharon and her son Jake. This world premiere is difficult to describe further without revealing its many plot twists that complicate making any sense of the storyline.

Keiko Green, Rafael Goldstein

The play alerts us that we may be in for a bumpy narrative ride by presenting three separate versions of the opening scene between Sharon and Jake. Jake is an uptight young man living on his nerves’ ends. Soon we meet Tina, a young woman working at some kind of clerk job. Gregg is a middle-aged man who flips characterizations radically from the first act to the second. Sabrina is a minor outsider character, a social worker who doesn’t seem to fit comfortably into the claustrophobic atmosphere.

DeAnna Driscoll, Keiko Green

By the end of the play, identities are called into question and the mood shifts from comic to sinister to weird. The play ends with a blackout so startling the audience was frozen into silence until the lights went up and the cast came out for its curtain call. Playgoers who relish shows of outward obscurity that suggest deep inner meanings may take pleasure in the shifting realities of Sharon. Others may quickly lose patience with what seems like a glut of arbitrary ambiguities.

DeAnna Driscoll, Rafael Goldstein

Both advocates and critics of the play should applaud the first-rate work by the performers, the production’s designers, and director Rob Lutfy. The viewers may be confused but the actors are fully in control of their roles. Deanna Driscoll is masterful in shifting dramatic gears from cheerful and motherly to foul-mouthed (changing costumes countless times just off stage). Rafael Goldstein is terrific as Jake, a figure of wall-to-wall anger and bitterness.

MJ Sieber, Keiko Green, Rafael Goldstein, Kat Peña, DeAnna Driscoll

MJ Sieber delivers a rollicking impersonation of Jake’s long-absent father (a plot twist too bizarre to explain easily). Keiko Green carries a double load as the playwright and Tina, the shop clerk. Her script’s merit may be in the eye and ear of the beholder, but she is a fine actress. Kate Peña does well as the social worker, whose purpose in the narrative eluded me.

MJ Seiber

The production’s imaginative aural and visual effects are essential to the creepy atmosphere of the play. For their contributions, many thanks go to Bryan Ealey (lighting), Yi-Chien Lee (scene design), Steven Leffue (sound design), and Alyssa Kane (properties designs).

Keiko Green, Rafael Goldstein

A final word about Keiko Green. She is the author of Exotic Deadly, which premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in April. That was a larky audience-pleasing play built around the unlikely topic of the cooking seasoning MSG. Sharon thus proves that Green can write dark and intense as well as comic. Sharon won’t be for all tastes but for risk-taking playgoers, it’s definitely worth a look.

DeAnna Driscoll, Rafael Goldstein

photos by Karli Cadel Photography

Present Laughter
Cygnet Theatre Company
Old Town Theater, 4040 Twiggs St.
Wed thru Sat at 7; Sat & Sun at 2
ends on July 2, 2023
for tickets (starting at $32), call 619-337-1525 or visit Cygnet

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