Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review of Seanachai Theatre's Lay Me Down Softly at The Den Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Lay Me Down Softly. It was directed by Kevin Christopher Fox and it was written Billy Roche. It was about a man named Theo (Jeff Christian) who owned a little boxing ring who had a daughter named Emer (Jamie L. Young) who fell in love with Junior (Dan Waller) who is basically an ex-boxer who is a mechanic. But one day when their boxer Dean (Matthew Isler) gets too beat up, Junior has to take over. Theo's girlfriend Lily (Carolyn Klein) doesn't really like Emer, unlike his friend Peadar (Michael Grant) who treats Emer like a daughter. Problems arise with love, jerkiness, and money. The play is about love and tough decisions and learning to accept what you have already done. I really liked this play. It is very funny and it is a mind-puzzler. And by the time I had thought over it for a while I thought I could figure out most of the play and I came up with a lot of theories about fathers and love.

Three things really made you feel like you were really there in the play and not just like you were watching a show. It thought that it was cool how Lily actually ate ice cream because you never actually expect real ice cream to be on stage. You might expect a real glass of water on stage, but this was different and it made me feel like I was present at this time and seeing this happen. It was not like, "Oh. Why is she licking plastic?" I thought that the set was awesome because it really looked like a traveling boxing ring. I liked the sign out front above the door that said "All Comers" and how they mentioned it in the show. The place looked like it was not completely run-down; it still had some business, but it was not in great shape. I thought that all the accents (dialect design by Eva Breneman) were really convincing and I really liked them. They really didn't seem fake. If I hadn't heard some of these actors talk before I would have thought they were really from Ireland.

There is a lot of romance in this. There is Junior and Emer, Lily and Theo, Peadar and Emer's mom, Theo and Emer's mom, Paddy Hickey the bookie and Lily, Paddy Hickey the bookie and the fortune teller, Ernie and the fortune teller, and Rusty and Lily. Most people are in love with more than one person. And you never see Paddy Hickey or Ernie or Rusty or the fortune teller or the mom. Once you meet Dean you know that he wants a girlfriend desperately but you also see that he is not going to get one anytime soon because he is such a jerk. He is laughing at everything kind of like a hyena and he thinks people getting hurt is the most funny thing ever until he has a fight and it doesn't really turn out as planned. The best relationship is Junior and Emer; there is no other man or other woman or anything like that. Lily has an actual relationship with Theo, but maybe that is the only one that she has an actual relationship with. The other relationships are mostly just flirty. The relationship between Emer's mother and Peadar was that he liked her but he came and got her to help her after Theo had left her and he came and was like I'm not going to leave her, but then he left her, and he felt sad about that now but he couldn't do anything about that. The author thinks love can be good in some ways but sometimes it can just go haywire.

Family love in this play is not exactly love. It is not hatred, but it is not exactly love. And the leader of the family, which is the father Theo in this case, is not giving his family the amount of love that they need. The family is kind of falling apart because Theo is not treating Emer like a daughter. He is treating her more like a servant. And he treats Lily the same way as he treats his child, basically like a servant. Peadar and Junior and Emer are basically like a family even though they are not actually family. This shows us better family love. Any they might be a family or soon to be a family. (You will know what I mean after you see the show.) Peadar is more like a father than Theo because he actually treats Emer like he loves her instead of like a worker. And Peadar wants Junior to be happy and if you actually love someone you want them to be happy even if it isn't the best for you. I think that the writer thinks that friend love can be turned into family love by being motherly or fatherly or brotherly or sisterly.

Boxing I think represents love in this show. It represents love in the way that there is a scene how you really see that Emer loves Junior is that they have a playful boxing fight. And how you really know that she loves him is that they basically make out in the boxing ring too. It doesn't just work with romantic love. It also works with family love. You see the family-ish love in boxing when Peadar is coaching Junior and he is not being tough or very serious. He seems like he doesn't want him to get hurt and that is why he is doing this. Love can also be a hard thing because Lily and Emer's mom are not treated like they should be. The actual boxing where people actually get hurt shows us the hard side of love.

People who would like this show are people who like boxing, love, and ice cream. People should definitely go and see this show. I loved it a lot. It involves you in the story and it doesn't just feel like you are watching a play. It feels like you are actually there.

Photos: Emily Schwartz

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