PITTSFIELD -- When we meet Elaine (Tamara Gardner) in the opening vignette of Town Players of Pittsfield's fitful production of Craig Pospisil's comedy "Months on End" at the Whitney Center for the Arts, she is barely holding her life together.
It is New Year's Eve and the increasingly sodden Elaine is saying goodbye to a year from Hell. As a new year begins, she is connecting with the party's host, Walter (an overly phlegmatic Tom Suski), whose wife is off in the corner making out with one of the guests.
It is not the last we will see of or hear about Walter and Elaine, as she considers whether an affair with a married man going through a divorce is worth more than a life on her own, as "Months on End" plays out over the course of its 12 scenes -- one for each month -- and two acts.
"Months on End" is about relationships -- siblings, lovers, ex-lovers, married couples, unmarried couples, friends. The characters here are all elements of a circle surrounding Ben (Jon Slocum) and Phoebe (Mimi Helm), June newlyweds whose marriage buckles in October under the weight of Ben's obsession with all things Beatles.
Throughout all of this there is plenty of room for regret and misgiving; for connections made, missed or broken; choices and the consequences of those choices.
Director Kevin Paul Wixom's choppy, more-effortful-than-effortless production draws strength from Gardner's Elaine, who rationalizess herself into a relationship that may or may not have a happy outcome for her, and especially from Helm's Phoebe, a smart, young woman riddled with apprehension about her oncoming wedding; who fiercely protects herself at the risk of her young marriage; and, finally, gives her husband his due as, in a rendering delivered pitch perfectly by Slocum, he practices his eulogy for a dear friend named Wade who has died of HIV-AIDS as Phoebe listens carefully; takes in what Ben says; relates internally Ben's experiences and memories of Wade with her own. With only one word of response when Ben finishes, it's the toughest kind of scene to play. Helm pulls it off with quiet restraint and the kind of full emotional palette Wixsom's production achieves elsewhere only intermittently. Theater Review
MONTHS ON END by Craig Pospisil. Directed by Kevin Paul Wixsom; costumes, Bev Krol; lighting director, Rob Dumais; sound design, John Fletcher; set design, Todd Hamilton. Through May 3. Eve.: 8 Sat. Mat.: 2 Sun. Town Players of Pittsfield, Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield. Tickets: $15-$10. 443-9279; townplayers.org. 1 hour 23 minutes
Elaine Tamara Gardner
Walter Tom Suski
(this weekend: Todd Hamilton)
Ben Jon Slocum
Phoebe Mimi Helm
Tony Todd Hamilton
(this weekend: Jerome Spratling)
Paige Meaghan Rogers
Nick Scott Luscier
Heidi Monica Bliss
Gwen Ann Krawet
Chris Bruce Cahill