Sean Grennan Leaves Us Laughing & Crying
by Mitchell Field
Just home from wonderful opening night of “The Tin Woman,” a superbly produced tragi-comedy at Ross Valley Players.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry at this well-written, well-cast play, the title of which is a riff on the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. But this titular woman, the sadly mis-named Joy (convincing Joanna Cretella), actually has a heart. But her heart is a transplanted one from a handsome, sushi-loving deceased photographer named Jack (suave, spiritual Jesse Lumb). And she has doubts about whether she deserves this second chance at life.
Jack, Joy’s heart donor, appears as an engaging ghost to the audience, striding delightfully around the stage. But Joy and the other characters cannot see him. Can he save her again, this time from his dysfunctional family? And from her own anxious, neurotic self?
Jack’s father, the hangdog Hank (spot-on, persuasive Keith Jefferds) is wonderful as the curdled-by-life Dad. Hank is ably supported by his long-suffering wife Alice (stalwart stage-charmer Ellen Brooks).
Jack’s hysterical, (in every sense) sister Sammy (funny Isabelle Grim) is afflicted by “swimmer’s ear.” And in dual roles as the Nurse and as Joy’s oversexed pal Daria, the delightful Sumi Narendran Cardinale provides broad comedy. In “The Tin Woman,” many of the funny lines are also excruciatingly personal and painful.
Playwright Sean Grennan mashes-up quirky modern playwright Lauren Gunderson with bits of crusty Arthur Miller. Gunderson’s “I and You” takes in “A View from the Bridge.”
Michael Barr sensitively directs an excellent cast, and a first-rate Tech Crew. Check out set-designer Ron Krempetz’ spare, yet subtle, fabric-covered set. Krempetz says he was “tired of painting.” What a treat to see some fresh furniture on RVP’s stage—a perfectly chosen Mid-Century dining-room suite, which could come from your neighbor’s Eichler home.
We feel right at home with Grennan’s funny, perceptive new-style comedy, as “The Tin Woman” figures out how her heart works. Don’t miss this one!
“The Tin Woman” by Sean Grennan, directed by Michael Barr, at Ross Valley Players, Ross, California, through Sunday, June 10, 2018. Info: rossvalleyplayers.com
Cast: Joanna Cretella, Ellen Brooks, Keith Jefferds, Isabelle Grimm, Jesse Lumb, and Sumi Narendran Cardinale.