Brooke Hill | News Editor
“Ice Glen,” directed by Baylor graduate student Cooper Sivara, transports the audience to a romantic countryside in Massachusetts in the 1920s with stellar actors.
A small cast of only six provides an intimate bond, reflected in the intimacy the audience feels with the cast by the end of the play.
“Ice Glen” was originally commissioned at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. in 2003 and was written by Joan Ackermann. The story is centered around Sarah Harding, played by Houston junior AnnaMae Durham. Harding is a poet whose poems made their way to Peter Woodburn, played by Atlanta senior Andrew Sabonis-Chafee, who is the editor of Boston-based Atlantic Monthly magazine, who wants nothing more than to publish her poems. While he claims throughout the play that her poems moved him deeply, he has some communication issues that cause problems within Stonegate, the home that the other five characters live in.
Scenic designer Bradlee LaMotte creates a watercolor-esque feel to the set, which mirrors the artistic talents of the owner of the house — Dulce Bainbridge, played by Austin senior Lily O’Neal Howard. The main essence of the play is the beauty of nature conveyed through Harding’s poems, and the set reflects the romanticism that most associate with poetry. The setting is further conveyed through different levels — the forest scenes occur on lifted platforms closer to the crowd, and the “room” settings in the home occur on a platform above the main rooms, allowing the widowed Bainbridge to appear “princess-like” while in her room, as one play-goer remarked.
The lighting, designed by Granbury junior Kiersten Mathis, allows the characters to become silhouettes as they walk offstage, allowing the characters themselves to become the art that transforms all of them throughout the play.
The costumes are reflective of their personalities as well as the time period — Harding, who prefers to spend most of her time in the outdoors, often appears barefoot and dirt-streaked, unconcerned with her appearance. Bainbridge is the sophisticated, proper woman in the play, and always appears in a detailed, classy, professional dress.
The language of the play can seem formal and hard to follow at first, but as the show goes on, comedy is infused throughout with the characters of house-keeper Mrs. Roswell, played by Austin senior Jessica Bean, and child-like Denby, played by Elkhart, Ind. senior Chase Ellsworth. Denby’s parents were killed in a fire when he was young, and the emotional trauma from the incident has disallowed him from becoming a mature adult (although this background isn’t revealed until about halfway through the play). Denby’s character is the most unique aspect of the play, as he provides a child-like, honest perspective of events and asks the questions that others are unwilling to ask.
Each character portrays monumental growth by the end of the play. I found myself proud of Mrs. Bainbridge for the woman that she becomes, as she realizes what she truly desires in life and is unafraid to go after it. Mr. Woodburn is transformed as he realizes the hurt that he has caused and the confusion some of his words have stirred, and his redemption comes at a pivotal moment. Vulnerability is the focus of character development, as characters must come to terms with their feelings and decide which parts of themselves they are willing to share with the world around them.
The show is laced with adult humor and even includes a few expletives, grabbing the attention of the crowd if ever it begins to slip. The show causes the audience to question their own willingness to open to the world around them through the story of Sarah Harding. The show runs until Sunday in Hooper-Schaefer and is a charming production you won’t want to miss.