By Beki Pineda
FULL CODE – Written by David Valdes Greenwood; Directed by Stephen Weitz. Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Performed at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street) through November 13, 2016. Tickets available at 303/444-SEAT or betc.org.
Last lines are so hard to write. You’ve brought your audience so far along on the ride with you. Now how do you stop? Think back to your favorite plays and movies. How many had really meaningful, insightful or startling last lines? That won’t be your problem with this show. It seems the whole event was leading up to the last line. Noooooo, I’m not going to tell you what it was!
The title of the play has significance as well. Anyone who has had dealings with sickness and hospitals knows that DNR means Do Not Resuscitate. The opposite is true of Full Code – “Keep me alive no matter what you have to do.” That proves crucial in this setting.
Sander (Casey Andree) is in a coma as the result of a freak elevator accident. His wife Callie (Laura Norman) returns from yet another business trip to find Sander’s “work wife” Lauren (Maire Higgins) at his bedside. While Sander and Callie have been separated by more than distance, they are still married. She is shocked, however, to discover how much has changed in her absence.
The contrast between the two women could not be more startling. Lauren is a super supportive perky (I hate perky!) Southern belle. Callie’s nickname could be short for “callous” as her persona is blunt, sarcastic and smart-mouthed. Only when alone does she reveal the chinks in her armor. The question becomes when and if Sander wakes up, which woman will he need and will they still be there?
While all the outside drama unfolds, Sander is having a very active coma-induced inside life. He chats with a work colleague Jackie (Karen Slack), visits with Joseph of Nazareth, and tries to get the attention of his visitors by willing his fingers to move. The one time he manages movement, his wife is checking her phone! He remembers good times with both women. It is, of course, resolved by the end of the play but not in any way you could have anticipated.
The professionalism of BETC productions is always impressive. Once again, the tech team succeeds remarkably in this show. The lighting design by Benjamin Abernathy succeeds in creating the difference between reality and hallucination, takes us inside a heart attack, and allows for a little Christmas cheer. The sound design by Jason Ducat also enhances the startling changes Sander is going through.
Based on past performances, Laura Norman as Callie seems to be playing against type. I haven’t seen her this nasty since SMELL OF THE KILL when she locked her husband in a freezer. But what a charming smart-mouth she makes. She keeps having these “Did I say that out loud?” moments and pretending she didn’t mean it. Newcomer to Colorado, Maire Higgins as Lauren is a tiny spitfire who was more than capable of standing up to Callie’s sarcasm. It will be fun to see her in future productions. The always brilliant Casey Andree as Sander moves easily between reality and fantasy and charms the audience while he tries to fight his way back. As an audience member, you care what happens to him and understand his position between the rock and the hard place.
They are ably supported by Luke Sorge as a disillusioned Joseph who has trouble believing Mary’s story of a virgin birth and Karen Slack as Jackie, the co-worker who appears in his dream state but isn’t the supportive friend she appears to be. Warren Sherrill as Dennis, the competent and caring nurse, and Devon James as the no nonsense Dr. See represent the hospital staff.
I shouldn’t have to tell you by this time to just put the dates for the rest of this season’s BETC shows on your calendar in advance so you won’t miss any of them. Do it!!
A WOW factor of 9!