Luce and Addie. Addie and Luce. Fierce friends from high school who have traveled somewhat separate, but interweaving, paths to find themselves at a final crossroads in their tiny, small-minded “bullshit town.”
Luce (Mo O’Rourke), a failed artist, is a day away from marrying the pious Nathan (Sam Taylor). He’s practically perfect in everyway—a devout Christian and high school math teacher who accepts Luce, faults and all. Her maid of honor Addie (Stephanie Tomiko) has just dumped her long-term boyfriend, Bill (Dylan Hares), so she can start her life post-wedding in Chicago pursuing journalism. Bill—a self-proclaimed jerk—is like Nathan in that he will forgive anything his love (Addie) throws at him. A fact he makes known during a couple of ill-timed will-you-marry-me requests despite their separation.
He’s even willing to set aside his belief that Addie is likely a lesbian who secretly, desperately loves Luce. Addie, herself, mostly admits this while recounting her longing for a moment in high school when the two girls kissed after imbibing cheap champagne during a silly game.
But, Addie is set on starting a life on her terms elsewhere, just as Luce is set on pursuing the white picket fence. For better or worse. Right or Wrong. Except, for Luce the life she chooses is worse than she imagined and all sorts of wrong for her.
The Long Way Around is a script packed with the kind of every day drama that easily resonates, because everyone continually stands at the precipices of who they were, now are, and will be. Struggling, in one way or another, to take the next step and hoping it’s the right one. And Julia Starr, the playwright, has captured the enduring friendship of girls struggling to become women independent of one another and given it a twist. It works, backed by dialogue that feels honest and given direction from Melissa Robinson that keeps the story grounded in a relatable world—one where music (in this case the Dixie Chicks) influences and sex (who, when, where) alienates.
THE LONG WAY AROUND
Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival
October 9 – 25, 2015
The Highwood Theatre
914 Silver Spring Ave, Suite 102
Silver Spring, MD 20910
1 hour, 30 minutes with no intermission
Details and Tickets
Addie and Luce are wonderful characters. O’Rourke and Tomiko generate an almost cool, yet nervy, tension while O’Rourke’s big doe eyes make Luce appear like a wide-eyed Bambi full of equal parts knowing and doubt. She looks as if she’s always on the verge of tears. A tormented spirit torn between doing what others want and what she wants—to be loving Addie. Tomiko is sassy and self-assured as the head strong Addie. Both actresses bring serious credibility to the central friendship and hold it just shy of romance with mastery.
Alison Talvacchio and Megan E. Konyndyk play Joan and Heather, respectively—two of Luce and Addie’s high school friends who help both work through their life choices. They edge the story to its final verdict as they stand in a kitchen with Luce, who hits a breaking a point while slicing carrots.
The Long Way Around doesn’t sensationalize the love between the Luce and Addie nor forget that not too long ago their love would have been taboo. Their story is multifaceted, but not problematic, though Luce and Addie—and even Bill and Nathan and Joan and Heather to some extent—embody beliefs, old and new, that are struggling for equitable space in society today. Around strikes a balance in not judging either as right or wrong (because, you know, live how you want and don’t tear others down) while progressing the story of the changing bonds between girls who together become women. Which is a unique, once-in-a-life, moment-in-time experience.
It seems like a lot. But The Long Way Around is richly knit and an excellently directed and acted drama that feels effortless in its telling. Which makes it the kind of show worth seeing.
The Long Way Around . Written by Julia Starr . Directed by Melissa Robinson . Featuring Mo O’Rourke, Stephanie Tomiko, Sam Taylor, Alison Talvacchio, Megan E. Konyndyk, and Dylan Hares . Set Design: Phoenix Ganz-Ratsat . Lighting Design: Toly Yarup . Sound Design: Orion Stekoll . Costume Design: Tip Letsche and Melissa Robinson . Stage Manager: Kelsey Murphy . Produced by The Highwood Theatre . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.