If you go to see “Land of Milk and Honey,” you will be wandering close to the barn of the historic Shoenberg Farm in Westminster when two actors get there. They are mid-conversation and all set to loop you in. From its commence, the Catamounts’ unerringly partaking output casts the audience as participant-observers — often to tender and illuminating impact.
The Boulder-dependent theater company’s layered tale (composed by Jeffrey Neuman) of the founding of the farm as a sanatorium for tuberculosis individuals is factual but also fantastical. In addition to featuring a poignant (and well timed) Colorado heritage lesson, there will be hymns and dancing, ghosts and fairly a handful of times of winking humor.
In the early 1900s, right after the death of his only kid, Louis Shoenberg funded the developing of a sanatorium and farm for tuberculosis clients at the behest of National Jewish Clinic. Even though its 70 acres have due to the fact been eaten up by advancement (there is a Walmart, Panda Express and Starbucks close by), the Shoenbergs’ barn and a number of of the dairy’s other structures even now stand around Sheridan Boulevard and West 72nd Avenue.
Once the audience is divvied into smaller groups, attendees wend by distinctive rooms and meet up with myriad people as the saga of the Shoenbergs unfolds.
Chris Kendall brings wounded weariness to his portrayal of the philanthropist. In an primarily luminous change, Christine Kahane performs Seraphine, a agent of Countrywide Jewish who accompanies Louis. And if her name sounds strong, it need to. It’s derived from the Hebrew Bible’s winged angels, the seraphim, or “burning ones.” A visionary with a reward of gab, Seraphine coaxes Louis to flip his grief into anything bigger.
Shoenberg’s son, Dudley (Justy Robinson), would make a few ghostly appearances — at periods singing a liltingly mournful hymn, one more time addressing his father immediately.
Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson and carried aloft by a beguiling ensemble, the production’s resonance during a pandemic is simple and neatly finessed. (Appear up “tuberculosis pandemic” and you will find out that we nevertheless are in the midst of another international pandemic.)
Even in advance of this pandemic made the “bodies-in-a-room” arts approximately unachievable, the Boulder-based mostly organization had been teasing the indicating of that “room.” Operating in the Dairy Arts Center’s lesser theater, they were consistently reimagining means to make that black-box theater fluidly intimate. Final summer time, as the coronavirus roiled, “The Rough” — Catamount’s delightful meditation on golfing, sources and entry unfurled over the greens of Westminster’s Legacy Ridge golfing training course.
This marks the company’s next collaboration with the town of Westminster. As well frequently the yoking of a municipal company with an arts purveyor results in being an justification for center-of-the-street (much too middling) fare. “Land of Milk and Honey” and “The Rough” offer creative proof that these kinds of tag-groups can develop engaging, entertaining and oh-so-sensible perform.
A number of actors listed here portray two characters. Ruth, a young client from the Midwest, welcomes audience associates as if they, far too, are fresh new arrivals. Done by Amelia Corrada, Ruth addresses for her worry — and lonesomeness? — with a sweet alertness, an over-eagerness to share her so a short while ago gleaned insights. Corrada is just as compelling when she provides a satirical aplomb (assume “SNL’s” Kate McKinnon) to her depiction of an less than-the-gun ad exec.
Joan Bruemmer-Holden’s Dolley — a purveyor of frozen delights — is sufficient, sly and a minimal va-va-voom as she tells her story of woe but also resilience. (Why, “Hello Dolley,” in fact.) Her Carrie is warmly imposing as she conducts a Jewish women’s benevolence club conference. You will very likely vote specifically the way she hopes you will.
As Jacob, a farmer, Sam Gilstrap teaches newcomers how to make a swift-launch knot (I by yourself appeared stumped) for the dairy cows. His monologue brims with heat for the beasts but also is infused with a damage wrought in fleeing Europe’s anti-Semitic pogroms. Later on, Gilstrap portrays Frank, who teaches volunteers to make toiletry luggage for people today going through homelessness. The figures are different — seemingly talking for diverse eras — but each would make the eddies of sorrow (but also likelihood) palpable.
A great deal like the clearly show asks of its attendees, “Land of Milk and Honey” time-travels. It finds the present in the previous and the past in our present.
It takes a special eye to switch the artifacts of the archive into a functionality and reveal the techniques our things proceeds to impart stories. Output designer Matthew Schlief pulls that off, turning a barn into a museum but also a secular-nonetheless-sacred sanctuary. He repurposes what experienced been milking parlors into personal, cement-and-brick theatrical spaces. He sees in a industry of dirt, rocks and weeds (trace: provide walking sneakers) a dormitory of beds.
Other individuals retaining the output evocatively and playfully on issue are dramaturg Lynde Rosario, costume designer Nicole Watts and audio designer Max Silverman.
By this stage in human record, just one might argue that the biblically promised land of milk and honey is generally a spot in need of creation, the hardly ever-ending operate of human compassion, far more than an true destination. Many thanks to the Catamounts, this “Land of Milk and Honey” is a daring expression of theater’s benevolent possibilities and a worthwhile place.