Curtain Call Theatre’s new production, directed by Michael Tabib, opens Friday, October 5 and runs through Saturday, October 27.
“Einstein and the Polar Bear” is set in the New England town of Spider Lake. Here Diane Ashe, traveling from Manhattan where she lives with her goldfish, develops some sort of car trouble. She is “just a pretty girl who got stuck in a snowstorm”, comments Bill Allenson, an erstwhile famous writer with a bad case of writer’s block. He deals old and rare books from his house where Diane is seeking shelter. “A beautiful bibliophile in a blizzard…” Bill, a “ once upon a time noble literary savage” tends to use big words to “lighten the mood” – or to obscure it.
“Small towns are oftentimes not what they appear to be”, Bill tells Diane. “They’re not all picket fences and rose gardens…” Almost a cliche! Numerous examples of this abound in literature and on stage, but seldom are the quirky characters painted with such a charming and sympathetic brush. Not that there isn’t plenty of irony. And we could stoop to analyzing metaphors: Who is the polar bear, really? Why on earth is Einstein so important to Andrew, Bill’s endearing dad?
There is much here that is esoteric, certainly deep, tragic even, and there are many questions that may never be answered, but the dark and gritty insights are served up with lots of giggles and occasional thigh-slapping guffaws.
“What are you doing here?”, Charlie Milton, the well-meaning dingbat of a mailman asks Diane. Does it matter what she tells him? Can we ever really know an other human being? Slowly we lift veils, peel layers and poke around, only to catch glimpses of further mysteries that surround these delightfully eccentric or downright weird people.
Everyone here has secrets – or know secrets that they’re not supposed to know. Meet Bobby and Helen Bullins, sweet and simple, said by Diane to have a “kind of child-like glow”.
Sometimes, driven by poignant and rather unrecognized loneliness, characters attempt intimacy. Diane keeps trying to tell Bill something. Why does he change the subject or tell her, “I don’t want to know who you are or why you’re here. I’m not interested in the details…” He does tend to go on and on, but Diane believes that, “beneath all that stuff, I bet there’s a lovely man”.
Can we find him hiding under his piles of books? Can she? Well, we’ll surely have plenty of fun trying!
“Einstein and the Polar Bear” runs at Russian River Hall , Monte Rio, from October 5 through October 27, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees (Oct. 14 and 21 only) at 2 p.m. $15 general, $12 Seniors over 60 and students with ID. Two Fridays are “pay what you can” (Oct. 5 and 12). Our special Gala fundraising performance is Saturday, October 27 (from 7 p.m.). For a tax-deductible donation of $35, come enjoy a delightful buffet of hors d’oeuvres, desserts, Korbel champagne and wines. For reservations and details, call (707) 524-8739
-by Gretchen Belgrave