by Mark G. Auerbach
You need a last-minute summer getaway, so you look at ads online, in hopes of finding something on short notice. You find a place, contact the owner, and arrange a site visit. The place needs work, and the owner is too willing to make a deal and fix everything before you arrive. In David Auburn’s Lost Lake, Berkshire Theatre Group’s play at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge through October 22, things don’t work out too well for this summer renter.
Lost Lake had its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2014. Its author, David Auburn won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his play Proof in 2001, which he subsequently adapted for the screen. He’s also known as a stage director, an his recent staging of O’Neill’s Anna Christie at Berkshire Theatre Group was one of the highlights of that season past.
A single mother sees an ad for a lakefront cottage, and when she arrives to inspect the place, it’s obvious that the cottage is in need of repairs. The cottage’s owner, a charming, yet quirky guy, offers to make good on the cottage’s deficiencies. She rents the place, and upon arrival, learns that the owner has been living in the place, and has made none of the repairs he’d promised. It’s too late for her to turn back, so she tries to make do with the situation. In the course of the play, the two characters learn to understand each other’s situations, and Hogan, the owner, is seriously unbalanced. Auburn weaves dramatic tension into their relationship, and creates two strong roles for veteran actors, Lynnette R. Freeman and Quentin Maré. Both actors hold their own, although Maré’s performance turns the landlord Hogan’s mental breaks and oddities into moments of riveting acting. Freeman matches him line for line on a more subtle level.
Daisy Walker’s direction is steady, on Randall Parsons’ seen-better-days cottage set. Hunter Kaczorowski’s costumes are spot on; Patricia M. Nichols’ lighting design is exemplary as is Scott Killian’s sound design. Kudos to the props people who found the beat up furniture and stove, and managed to make the set like a picture-perfect cottage gasping for breath after years of neglect.
It’s been a stellar summer for Berkshire Theatre Group–a season of riches for me. I was blown away by Gabe Aronson’s sizzling performance as Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet. I was mesmerized by Lauren Ridloff’s performance in the pre-Broadway Children of a Lesser God–I expect her to win a Tony nod for that next Spring. I liked the exuberance of Travis G. Daly’s and Mark Gionfriddo’s production of The Music Man. I won’t soon forget Eric Hill’s perfect rendering of Edward Albee’s At Home At The Zoo–with the perfect cast of David Adkins, Joey Collins and Tara Franklin. And that creaky classic Arsenic and Old Lace was so funny.
Berkshire Theatre Group is a family of artists and craftspeople. They welcomed my Westfield News Group and 89.5fm/WSKB colleague Patrick Berry and me to produce a radio documentary about what it takes to make theatre. I have a greater respect and admiration for these people. I loved spending time with them this summer. I’m thankful. And, I’m blessed.
The Westfield News Group was one of the production sponsors.
The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Lost Lake. by David Auburn.. Directed by Daisy Walker. Scenic design by Randall Parsons. Costume design by Hunter Kaczorowski. Lighting design by Patricia M. Nichols Sound design by Scott Killian. Cast: Lynnette R. Freeman and Quentin Maré. Through October 22. The Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre..Stockbridge, MA. For tickets: 413-997-4444 or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm/WSKB Radio.