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    Review: At The Vanishing Point at Actors Theatre
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    "At The Vanishing Point" is set in Louisville, but it isn’t just about Louisville.

    Though the play, written by Naomi Iizuka, sources itself through documents researched in Louisville and is placed in Butchertown; though there are many references at which Louisvillians will give a knowing nod, "At the Vanishing Point" is not a historical account of the city.

    The themes in the production cross state lines and trend toward the universal: the interconnectedness of humanity, the frailty of life, the uniqueness of perspective.

    And the way that it explores those themes is nothing short of compelling.

    But there is no spectacle.

    There is no fanfare.

    There are only the actors. Each gripping the audience with his or her monologue; weaving the history of their interrelated lives against the backdrop of a serene sky, lit in the most striking hues (Lighting Designer Matt Frey knocked it out of the park with this one).

    There is nothing to carry this story except the quality of the words themselves and the quality of the acting.

    And that is enough.

    The production starts out strong, with Bruce McKenzie (Photographer), doing a show and tell of sorts; painting the picture of his life for the audience through photographs he has taken. McKenzie is a familiar sight on the Actors stage ("Romeo and Juliet," "Our Town," "Noises Off") and this is a good thing, because listening to McKenzie is like talking to an old friend.

    As the story continues, more characters are introduced, each adding threads to the tapestry; some that help to tie up loose ends created by McKenzie’s character, and others that serve to unravel more.

    The tales that are told through the series of stories are all connected, with the exception of the one told by well-known local musician Ben Sollee. While his original onstage musical score brings a welcome depth to the production, his story just doesn’t seem to fit with the others.

    Les Waters’ direction is elegant in its perceived simplicity. Waters doesn’t shy away from open space or silent moments onstage; he uses them masterfully. And it is these two things, in concert with each other, that give The Vanishing Point some of its most resonant moments.

    In the production, Waters has placed a single character on an expansive and empty set; the contrast is striking. And yet, each actor weaves his tale with such skill that the massive space shrinks and suddenly the audience is sitting at the table in Ronnie’s (Rebecca Hart) kitchen; pulling up a stool at Maudie’s (Wendy Stetson) bar.

    And by the end, you find that though you’re sitting across from people whom you have only just met, you are reminiscing right along with them.

    At The Vanishing Point, directed by Les Waters, continues at Actors Theatre through February 15. Tickets are available online or by calling the Actors Theatre box office at 502.584.1205. There will be an open captioned performance on February 7 and an audio described performance on February 8.

    Image: Courtesy of B.Brymer/Actors Theatre

    Michelle Rynbrandt's picture

    About Michelle Rynbrandt

    Before landing in the Possibility City, Michelle toured the country performing in various regional theatres. Having been there and done that, she can honestly say that Louisville's cultural opportunities are second to none.

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