The wind howls on a cold blustery night in Alaska. Snow is blanketing the Earth, making everything white, separating the difference between the air and sky. Such is the setting of Cindy Lou Johnson’s emotionally charged work, Brilliant Traces. Produced by Art of Warr, this work has a lot of potential, but lacks feasibility.
The premise is this, Rosannah DeLuce is an unstable woman and somehow miraculously drives from Arizona to Alaska over weeks of time in her wedding gown. Her car dies in the terrible storm and she somehow finds herself knocking on Henry Harry’s door. Henry is somewhat of a loner and Rosannah disrupts his isolated life. The next 90 minutes focus on them revealing, their past baggage that still drives them into despair. Despite the hard to believe circumstance, these two broken souls form a connection and they start to negotiate an unlikely relationship.
When you go to the theater, you are asked to suspend your disbelief. I have no problem with that. Yet when circumstances are so unlikely, it is hard to get past it and makes it hard to believe in the rest of the play. Unfortunately, that is what happens here, it is too far fetched and we have trouble buying into the scenario. For example, Rosannah doesn’t remember driving from Arizona to Alaska as she claims to have been hallucinating the whole time. And when she ends up there somehow, her dress is in pristine condition. Now if she really drove that far of a distance and then walked in a snowstorm, wouldn’t her dress show signs of wear and tear? This lack of attention to detail makes the set up more difficultr to believe.
Yet, the script has potential. It is reminiscent of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley. With strong performances by Blake Merriman and Alyssa May Gold, there are gems of magic. However, the writing is monologue heavy and it makes it seem like a competition between the two actors over whose life is worse, rather that two people who are lost finding each other. The actors do their best with script, but fall into emotional indulgence every so often. Merriman has moments where his soul comes pouring out of him and we fall in love with him. Gold has similar moments, but her character is so dysfunctional that it makes it hard for her to truly connect and bring forth a lot of innocence.
I left the theater a little bewildered, but not completely disappointed. Johnson is on to something, but more realistic circumstances would help us buy into this piece from the beginning.