Reviews: “Escanaba in da Moonlight” in Santa Rosa and “The Seafarer” in Sebastopol

For theatre patrons seeking something outside the realm of a traditional holiday play, two shows are currently running in the North Bay that fit that bill. Santa Rosa’s Left Edge Theatre would like you to spend some time in Escanaba in da Moonlight while Sebastopol’s Main Stage West invites you to hang out with The Seafarer.

Actor Jeff Daniels wrote Escanaba in da Moonlight a year after he starred in Dumb and Dumber and its influence is clearly felt. His comedy about a group of Michigan sportsmen on the first day of hunting season is crass, inane, crude, vulgar, gross, and – like the aforementioned film – funny.

Paige Picard

Director Argo Thompson has gender-swapped the roles by replacing Daniels’ good ol’ boys with good ol’ girls and stuck them in a cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Alberta (Sandra Ish) and her daughters Remy (Chandler Parrot-Thomas) and Ruby (Paige Picard) have gathered for their annual hunting trip. They’re joined by a family friend they call “The Jimmer” (Kimberly Kalember) who, after being abducted by aliens a while back, now sports something of a speech impediment.

While they are all excited by the opening of hunting season (“It’s like Christmas with guns.”), Ruby is a bit worried. If she doesn’t bag a buck this trip, she’ll take over the ignominious record as the oldest family member to continuously come home empty.

The lengths she’s willing to go to in ensuring that doesn’t happen involves things like moose testicles and porcupine piss.

Yeah, Noël Coward it ain’t but the ladies have fun with it.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘Escanaba in da Moonlight’ runs through December 15 at Left Edge Theatre. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Thu – Sat, 8pm; Sun., 2pm. $15–$42. 707.546.3600. leftedgetheatre.com

Photos by Katie Kelley

**********

Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, while set on Christmas Eve, has little to do with the holiday. It involves two brothers (John Craven, Edward McCloud), a couple of friends (Kevin Bordi, Anthony Abaté), and a stranger (Keith Baker) who end up in a poker game with very high stakes.  There’s also a lot of drinking, cursing, and fighting. Well, it is an Irish play.

John Craven, Kevin Bordi, Edward McCloud, Anthony Abaté, Keith Baker

McCloud and Baker played the same roles 10 years ago in a well-received production by the late, lamented Narrow Way Stage Company. Director David Lear reunites them and surrounds them with a group of actors who do well with characters who lead lives of not-so-quiet desperation.

And the things they do with a Christmas tree…

Rating (out of 5): ★★★★

‘The Seafarer’ runs through December 21 at Main Stage West, 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol. Thu–Sat, 8pm; Sunday, 5pm. $15–$30. 707.823.0177. mainstagewest.com

Photos by Eric Chazankin

These reviews originally appeared in edited versions in the North Bay Bohemian.

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