Just aside the Bohemian Highway on the outskirts of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet of Monte Rio sits the Russian River Hall.
For 15 years, it’s hosted the productions of Curtain Call Theatre, a company comprising a dedicated group of local volunteers who bring live theater to West County.
The productions usually feature small casts with a mixture of veteran actors and newcomers, a true hallmark of the welcoming nature of community theater. While technical effects are minimal, which is the norm for intimate venues like the Hall, they always seem to make really effective use of the space with a nicely detailed set.
All these elements are at play in Curtain Call’s season-ending production of Light Sensitive. The Avilynn Pwyll-directed production of Jim Geoghan’s bittersweet romantic comedy runs through Dec 2.
The three-character piece is set in a disheveled tenement apartment in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Its tenant, Tom (Dan Vanek), is a former taxi driver blinded in an accident. His only friend/caretaker, Lou (Jake Hamlin), drops by on Christmas Eve to inform him that he’s moving out of the area and has arranged for a volunteer from a support services for the blind organization to assist him. Tom is less than thrilled with the proposition and even less so with the abrupt arrival of Edna (Lisa Posternak).
The battle is on as Edna refuses to leave despite Tom’s repeated demands that she vacate the premises. Tom is Edna’s first client and she has no intent in failing in her—and her father’s—eyes. Threats are made, negotiations are held over a bottle of booze, stories are told. In a week’s time, significant changes are apparent in Tom and Edna’s relationship.
Then Lou returns.
Geoghan’s tale of damaged individuals finding solace in each other is a sweet one. Vanek has played the role of Tom before and does well with the physicality of a sightless person. Hamlin provides good support (though a shaky accent) as Lou. Posternak also does well with the physicality of her character and the sense of desperation and longing that envelops her.
The set (by Hamlin) is like a fourth character in the show. It undergoes as much a transformation as the protagonists, and its window effect in particular adds depth to the surroundings.
Light Sensitive has become a holiday staple at some theaters across the country. While set between Christmas and New Year’s, its story of the late-in-life search for human connections is timeless.
‘Light Sensitive’ runs through Dec. 2 at the Russian River Hall, 20347 Hwy 116, Monte Rio. Fri & Sat, 8pm. $25–$75. 707.387.5072. russianriverhall.com.