! Culture Shock
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 V.13 No.51 | December 16 - 22, 2004 

Culture Shock

Everybody knows that the holidays are a lousy time of year for a lot of people. If you aren't in a satisfying romantic relationship, or if your last name isn't Walton, this might not quite be the season of limitless bliss.

Whether you're talking about movies, television or music, our traditional holiday entertainments rarely reflect this reality. Let's face it—a bunch of infuriatingly joyous smut regularly gets foisted on us during the holidays like a bag of moldy lukewarm chestnuts, and theatrical productions dish out as much as anything else. Even the darker plays that come around are usually comedies.

That's one reason why Silent Night, Lonely Night is such a rare goose. Written by Robert Anderson, the play was first staged in 1959 in New York starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Bel Geddes. It's essentially about two lonely people—a housewife named Katherine and a failed writer named John—who meet by accident at an inn on Christmas Eve. Katherine has just found out that her husband has cheated on her, while John still struggles to cope with his own responsibility for the untimely ends of his daughter and wife.

A solid new production is currently showing at the newly opened Glenn Rose Playhouse (6921 Montgomery NE), the Northeast Height's only theater. In many ways this play is an anachronism. There's nothing either overtly clever or cynical about it. There are no dance numbers. No violence. No nudity. No graphic sex. It's just a simple sad story related in a long, slow-paced conversation between two lonely, damaged people.

Directed by Richard Boehler, this local version is small, almost inconspicuous, but it's a nice piece of work nonetheless. The two leads have an odd but alluring chemistry with each other. St. Pierre plays Katherine as a serenely miserable character with a thick shell that's difficult to penetrate. Thane Kenny as John has found an ideal role for himself. He does a fine job of being anxious and uncomfortable during the first act, and maimed by grief during the second.

The supporting players—Teddy Eagleston, Jennifer Lloyd and Aaron Work—are also surprisingly effective. Silent Night, Lonely Night fits the bill as a moving, thoughtful alternative to clichéd holiday cheer and Christmas wise-cracks. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m. $10. 881-0503.

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