|Leonard C.Haas blathering as Ceal Phelan looks on|
The Lantern Theater Company, located and 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting Vigil through June 12, 2011. “No one likes me so I’m not surprised that you don’t,” Kemp, played by Leonard C. Haas, announces to his aunt as he arrives in her apartment. For the most part, the audience agrees with his estimation. He is not a very likable character, albeit a somewhat pathetic one. An elderly Grace, portrayed by Ceal Phelan, responds to his unusual greeting with a shocked stare. And so the first act continues-- Kemp with his brief monologues, pitifully complaining about his life; whining about the lack of attention he has received from his parents and his aunt; begrudging strangers in the neighborhood their moments of apparent happiness; and wondering why the woman in the apartment across the way continues to stare at him. Grace, with her responses, arches an eyebrow; drops a jaw; cocks her head to one side; or opens her eyes wide. The first act encompasses a year, and Kemp, who has quit his job and traveled cross country to help his aunt prepare to die, gets tired of waiting. Passage of time is very cleverly revealed. Scenes are brief and quickly end in a blackout. Snow outside the window and Christmas carols herald winter. A baseball thrown into the window is an earmark of spring. Music from a Mr. Softee ice cream truck indicates the summer and leaves blown through the window designate the fall. The acting in Vigil is excellent. Leonard Haas has a series of virtual monologues that has the audience feeling a range of emotions from apathy to pity, to shock, and eventually compassion. But it is Ceal Phelan who steals the show. She has only a few lines and they occur in the second act, but in reality, she does not need all of them. The range of her facial expressions is immense. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one of Ceal Phelan’s looks is worth a whole script. Lighting Designer Janet Embree has done an excellent job with this production. There are many blackouts during which characters change position on the stage. To enable them to see their way to their new “mark”, the set is designed with small strategically-placed glow-in-the-dark lights. These enable the actors to find their way around the stage and to move unseen during a blackout. Christopher Colucci must also be commended for his sound design. Not only do various sounds signify the seasons, but additional music also adds a touch of the macabre. Be sure to see this powerful, heartrending production unfold before June 12 and watch out for the surprise ending. For more information or tickets call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.