by Beki Pineda
BEFORE YOU GO – Written and Directed by John Ashton. Produced by Miners Alley Playhouse (1224 Washington, Golden) through September 19. Tickets available at minersalley.com or 303-935-3044.
Well, congratulations, Mr. Ashton! You did it! You created a theatre event that makes your audience fall in love with all your characters; tells a family story full of humor, secrets and love; and gives the Mom character the best line ever written to end Act I. What more could any reasonable playwright want? Maybe full houses every night? Let’s work on that.
Of course, your story was ably brought to life by an amazing cast. Missy Moore brings every role she plays to glorious life, but her own energetic personality is made to order for the feisty but troubled Jill, the daughter in the family. She wears her past on her face and yet looks to the future with hope in her heart. Mark Collins as Father Pat, the younger brother, is the stabilizing force for his siblings. His view of his role as a priest in contemporary times is both realistic and encouraging. Would that there were more people with his purpose and state of mind.
Eric Mather as the older brother is the surprise of the evening. Known more for his comic and improv skills, Eric has with this role settled himself smack waist-deep in the middle of the pool of Denver’s serious actors. A long kept secret is the impetus for a solitary scene with no dialogue at a crucial point in his journey. Even with no words, his thoughts and decision making process play across his face and in his body language, leaving the audience internally screaming at him. Wow! Well done, Mr. Mather.
In smaller but no less crucial roles, Billie McBride charms as the sibling’s mother, Betty. Her love knows no bounds; it is her quiet wisdom and bravery in reminding her tormented son of a scene from their mutual past that pulls him from the brink. Damon Guerassio does well playing lovelorn and rejected boyfriends. I can remember three or four similar roles in the last year. But he does them so well. His silly but sincere “Sammy Suicide” (his rock star name) shows up with his heart in his hand as well as flowers, candy, a teddy bear and a new song to overcome Jill’s anger. He’s just endearing enough to earn a happy ending.
Mr. Ashton knew what he wanted this show to look like and achieved it. He created through words and movement touching moments between every member of the family with another – brother to brother – child to mother – brother to sister. The tech team of Jonathan and Elizabeth Scott-McKean at Miners never disappoints. For this family, they created a cozy but somewhat worn living room/kitchen combination with family pictures on the walls and the detritus of a well-lived life atop every piece of furniture. The sound design included phone rings that had to be impeccably timed – a task admirably designed by actor Mark Collins and performed by Jonathan Scott-McKean. Appropriately normal clothing was provided by Steffani Day with the lighting design by Vance McKenzie creating mood and the passage of time. They also pulled off one of the coolest special effects I’ve seen in a long time. Wait for it – you’ll know when you see/hear it.
For all the laughs (and there were many), I was still wiping away tears as I left Golden. If you are not moved by the tableau presented in the final scene, you have no heart. This just opened but the buzz is out and it’s going to hard to get a ticket on later weekends. Grab a pair of seats while you can.
A WOW factor of 9.5!!