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Sonoma County Gazette
Welcome Home Jenny Sutter
Maureen O’Neill (Lou), Jenna Rechsteiner (Jenny) and Dylan Kupper (Donald) in Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter

Wounded Humanity Explored
in Two Upcoming Plays

Mar 2, 2018
by Alexa Chipman


‘Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter’ from Santa Rosa Junior College Theatre Arts follows a U.S. Marine returning from Iraq, and her transition into civilian life, through a misfit desert community called “Slab City” with quirky, amusing residents. Artistic director Leslie McCauley discovered it at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival premiere. “The characters are tenderly multifaceted—alternatively fragile, funny, candid, crude and kind.” Several veterans are involved with the production, including Air Force veteran Kaellie Clein-Cunningham (Cheryl). There are two alternating casts of six actors; some rehearsals were separate, others as a group. “They’re a very supportive ensemble” director Wendy Wisely praises. “I hope the audience will feel that as they watch the play.”

Integrating veterans into a supportive environment is a crucial aspect of community that is often overlooked. “We are still trying to figure out how to properly honor their service…the loss of stability and camaraderie is profound” Wisely comments on play’s message. Jisaela Tenney (Lou) urges a greater understanding of what veterans face when returning home. “As a society there is much more we could do…it breaks my heart.” Playwright Julie Marie Myatt’s ‘Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter’ is a tender narrative of the flawed complexity and ultimate compassion of humanity.

‘Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter’ by Julie Marie Myatt
March 9-18 at the Santa Rosa Junior College Theatre Arts
Tickets: $12-18, 707-527-4307

Newman Auditorium in the Emeritus Hall, Elliott Ave., Santa Rosa Campus

 ‘The Realistic Joneses’ from Santa Rosa’s Left Edge Theatre is a moving story of two suburban couples who share a surname. Their personal struggles are hidden beneath carefully constructed conversations and an innovative use of language. Director Argo Thompson pauses the actors during rehearsal, asking them to explain the motivation their characters are feeling in that moment, to layer the subtext in a richly woven tapestry of emotions. Deeply hidden fears percolate under casual lines in the play, driven by a sense of loneliness or chronic pain.

Despite troubling themes, ‘The Realistic Joneses’ is a dramatic comedy. Melissa Claire (Jennifer Jones) mentions that it includes “some of the funniest lines I’ve ever read” and she appreciates the sense of play that has been integral to the rehearsal process. “You have to know your lines and let the story underneath come out through what you say, and how you react.”

Bordering on absurdist style, playwright Will Eno’s sense of the abstract has inspired the two-dimensional set design paintings of white on black for three locations. Thompson would like the setting to be universal, emphasizing metaphor rather than realism. He believes that the story is “representational, everyman, we are all Joneses in a way” explaining that Eno’s writing is “not sentimental or manipulative, with real people and interesting dialogue.”

‘The Realistic Joneses’ by Will Eno

March 2-25 at Left Edge Theatre
Tickets: $25-40, 707-546-3600
Luther Burbank Ctr., Left Edge Studio, 50 Mark West Springs Rd, Santa Rosa

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Alexa Chiman - Live Theater Reviews


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