LCP’s ‘The Tin woman’ shows lots of heart
By MARILYN JOZWIK
Published March 20, 2019
“Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have”
So goes the double-negative opening of the refrain of the band America’s 1974 tune “The Tin Man.” Those sentiments are at the heart of Sean Grennan’s play “The Tin Woman,” being presented at Lake Country Playhouse.
The show, directed by Nancy Hurd and Rebecca Richards, is taut and poignant, featuring one of the finest ensemble cast performances I’ve seen. Directors Hurd and Richards’ performers have captured all the wit, humor and humanity of this story of a family dealing with death and a woman given new life from the tragedy.
While the subject matter seems heavy, the characters have found so many opportunities to laugh, bringing to mind the idea that if the situation didn’t bring laughter, it would bring tears.
The show revolves around Joy (Alyssa Falvey), a young graphic artist, who has received the heart of a 30-year-old man, Jack, who died in an auto accident. Falvey’s performance is at the heart of the show. Joy’s downward spiral and eventual leap of faith keep the show’s pulse, with Falvey providing a riveting performance.
Joy’s recovery from the surgery is portrayed alongside the emotional recovery of Jack’s family – mom Alice (Sara Sarna), Dad Hank (Bob Fuchs) and sister Sammy (Cayla Anderson). All are not doing well. Joy falls into depression, feeling not deserving of this second chance at life. At times she even resents being thrust back into the land of the living when she had reconciled with death.
Jack’s family, too, is having a hard time healing, especially Jack’s father. The pivotal moment comes when Joy accepts an invitation from Jack’s family to meet with them. In a truly remarkable and tenderly done scene, the four come together to realize that Jack is more alive than just in their memories.
I don’t think I’ve seen a show in which I felt so invested in the characters. Everything about this show seems real, down to the mashed potatoes served at the family dinner.
Sarna is effective as Jack’s mom, trying to stay strong to keep her unraveling family together. She busies herself with mundane tasks while her daughter, a preschool teacher, and husband, who owns a construction business, cope in their own ways. Sarna is so relatable as the steadily beating heart of the family.
Daughter Sammy is spiritual, seeing signs all around her that transcend her to another world, sending her into emotional spasms. Anderson’s Sammy is such a delight to watch. Especially fun are her talk to her preschool class – complete with a request to go to the bathroom – and her tearful discussion with Joy when they meet for the first time. Anderson’s meek asides to her mom’s requests during her meltdowns make her character even more endearing.
Ariel Rosen as Joy’s best friend, Darla, is the spice in this show. She portrays the sort of friend everyone wishes they had – funny, smart and totally devoted. You couldn’t wait for her character to appear again onstage.
Yet, it is Fuchs as Jack’s dad who has perhaps the most difficult role. Hank is taciturn since Jack’s death and his wife and daughter can’t break through. Fuchs keeps that steely resolve throughout, until the family finds an opening to unlock his hurt and anger.
Zachary Klahn plays Jack’s ghost throughout, appearing in most every scene with the conflicted Joy and his grieving family, effectively mimicking their emotions. But in the show’s most dramatic moment, Jack and his dad appear in a flashback scene just weeks before Jack’s death. It is a marvelously done scene that helps explain Hank’s inability to cope.
Breanne Brennan adds her considerable skills with comedy to an early scene as a nurse in the recovery room with Joy. Falvey’s deadpan Joy contrasts beautifully with Brennan’s inappropriately perky nurse to set the stage for the light hand given to a weighty subject.
If you go
Who: Lake Country Playhouse
What: “The Tin Woman”
When: Through March 31
Where: Lake Country Playhouse, 221 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland