Written and Directed by Ashley Nicole Audette
Midtown International Theatre Festival
Last year, I attended a performance of the opening scene of Ashley Nicole Audette’s powerful play LIGHTS and, this week, I was lucky enough to see the full-length version of the story, as presented by the Midtown International Theatre Festival and directed by Audette as well.
Lula (Melissa Porcaro) meets Jared (Kelsey McClarnon) at a Christmas tree light farm in San Diego. Within minutes, they quickly connect and learn they are both struggling with haunts of their past. Lights follow the couple over the upcoming months, leading up to a third act twist that brought on gasps from the audience.
McClarnon and Porcaro’s chemistry is very natural and their relationship tangibly progressed throughout the scenes. Both in personality and appearance, McClarnon brings to mind a young David Eigenberg and makes Jared extremely likeable and sympathetic. Porcarco is sarcastic and vulnerable as Lula and delivers Audette’s natural dialogue.
Sarah Kate Innes is Jared’s estranged sister, Claire, and first comes onto the stage in an over-the-top comedic introduction, but before long, truly excels at revealing Claire’s dark side. Matt Mauer is perfectly smarmy and shady as James, Claire new love interest, who has a few secrets of his own.
The story is told as a series of vignettes looking into Jared and Lula’s lives, which made it very easy to envision the story told as a dramatic television series.
Audette’s greatest strength is her ability to balance out a tale of drugs, abuse and other draining and dramatic matters with so many witty quips and wry dialogue. Written by another playwright, LIGHTS would have been depressing and melodramatic, but in the hands of a writer such as Audette, it was just right.
LIGHTS written and directed by Ashley Nicole Audette; starring Kelsey McClarnon, Melissa Porcaro, Sarah Kate Innes, and Matthew Mauer. What happens when life takes a turn that is unexpected? Is anything really a coincidence? In Lights, we search for these answers and more as we meet two strangers that cross paths far from home on Christmas Eve. (Drama)
Performance Schedule: Wed 8/03, 6:00pm; Fri 8/05, 9:00pm; Sun 8/07, 12:30pm
Running Time: 75 minutes
Venue: Jewel Box Theater, 312 W. 36th Street.