• Theater Review: Play questions the aging mind
    By Jim Lowe
     | February 16,2014
    Jim Lowe / Staff photo

    Dr. Grey (Alison Goyette), left, dictates notes while her patient Hannah (Emme Erdossy) snoops on “Intake.”

    Aging has become a bigger and bigger issue as people outlive their body parts — and sometimes their minds.

    Margot Lasher’s new play “Intake” portrays an 82-year-old woman who fears she is losing her mind. The Greenberg-Snell production, part of Lost Nation’s Winterfest, proved charming and often quite funny at Friday’s performance. The final performance is at 2 p.m. today at Montpelier City Hall Arts Center.

    The elderly Hannah hasn’t been religious about taking her medication and she talks strangely sometimes, so she has been referred to a psychiatrist. In her “Intake” interview, the young Dr. Grey is disconcerted by Hannah’s brassy and independent responses.

    Hannah won’t give the desired answers to the formulaic questions — and sometimes she even turns the questions back on the questioner.

    Dr. Grey, after a bit of exasperation, comes to respect and care for Hannah, whose lifelong companions are dogs. They begin to have regular sessions as Dr. Grey is studying the aging of the older woman’s mind. Hannah, in fact, is aging gracefully if reluctantly.

    Emme Erdossy delivered a tour de force performance as the elderly Hannah. Erdossy mixed pathos with a dry wit, oh so humanly, making this woman both lovable and real.

    Alison Goyette had the less attractive role as Dr. Grey, the “straight man” for Hannah’s humor, but she proved quite effective.

    Despite those performances, the play wasn’t a dramatic success for several reasons. For it to be successful as a comedy, it must be consistent throughout. The first act was mostly repartee in the style of “The Golden Girls,” which was certainly fun. But the second act was an introspective and occasionally touching look at death. And it wasn’t funny.

    “Intake” didn’t work as a drama for two reasons. First, the portrayal (the playwright’s, not the actor’s) of Dr. Grey was most inauthentic. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who then go through psychiatry school and would never administer a test without allowing patients to explain themselves. (I never encountered such a stupid psychiatrist my in 26 years in the mental health field.)

    The psychiatrist, of course, can be rewritten to be a bit more believable. But there was no dramatic arc, one that brings its audience to a climax, then the conclusion — and hence no point.

    Lasher has created a series of vignettes, some of them quite effective, and a splendid character in Hannah. If she could create a through storyline, with all the dramatic tension necessary to bring it along to a climax, she could have a beautiful little play.

    The production, directed by Joanne Greenberg and produced by Liz Snell (both former theater teachers at U-32), was effective and well done. Casey Covey designed the attractive lighting on Snell’s simple but elegant set.

    “Intake” could be quite a good play with some work. Friday’s audience wasn’t concerned, as it thoroughly enjoyed Erdossy’s charming performance.

    Lost Nation Theater

    Lost Nation Theater’s Winterfest will present the final performance Margot Lasher’s “Intake,” today at 2 p.m. at City Hall Arts Center, 39 Main St. in Montpelier. “Adapted from Samuel Beckett,” by Ellis Jacobson, follow follows Feb. 20-23, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, an 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and students; call 229-1339, or go online to www.lostnationtheater.org.

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