Theater Review: 'Desert Cities' Resonates In Sherman

Published: July 16, 2018 at 12:00 am


SHERMAN - The lengths that parents will go to protect their children is on intense and exquisite display in The Sherman Playhouse production of Other Desert Cities, by playwright Jon Robin Baitz.

Posing as staunch, practicing, conservative members of the Grand Old Party, Lyman (played by Steve Schroko) and Polly (Kit Colbourn) Wyeth reside in the desert of Southern California. Exemplifying the wealthy upper echelon lifestyle, replete with tennis and club luncheons, theirs is an idyllic and seemingly secure existence. Yet one Christmas, their two surviving adult children come home and turn their lives upside down.

From its very opening, the Wyeths and their offspring - daughter Brooke (Reesa Nestor) and son Trip (John Squires) - are bristling in each other's company. Initially, it is just a few seemingly lighthearted jabs; then the tensions build.

Thrown into this family of dysfunction is Polly's sister Silda Grauman (Eileen Epperson), a woman in recovery from a bad habit.

As words become heated and intentions become determined, there is awful discord. Like most families, the Wyeths love deeply and disagree forcefully. While they are not unique, their story is. The play is humorous and troubling. The writing is remarkable for its ability to capture the many facets of family life.

Directed by Katherine Almquist and blessed with a gifted and talented cast, this Sherman Players production packs a punch on many levels.

Scott Shroko and Kit Colbourn both play a badly damaged yet loving couple well. Their relationship is defined by typical characteristics and a bond that can only be forged through shared trauma. Their grief is obvious.

Rebellious and lost, Reesa Nestor's Brooke is impressive as her character struggles with emotions and a reality that she cannot rationalize. Ms Nestor is skilled and powerful in this role.

John Squires is exciting to watch every minute he is on stage. He is a natural who applies his craft with dexterity and skill.

Rounding out this excellent cast, Ms Epperson is cynical and entertaining as her Silda dances around the edges until she too has a larger responsibility than she would like. She portrays her emotions broadly, as though she has taken a sharp uppercut to the ribs. It leaves her breathless.

The entire play takes place in the well-appointed, elegant living room of the Wyeth home. It is decorated with clean lines and crisp edges. Set designer Paul Tines is to be commended for so accurately representing the essence of this play, which imparts many life lessons as its characters struggle to find solid ground.

Under the careful and thorough direction of Ms Almquist, this production hits its mark. This is a play that resonates. A superb presentation, it is not to be missed.

Performances continue weekends through July 28, with curtain at 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays, July 15 and 22.

Contact The Sherman Players box office at 860-354-3622 or visit shermanplayers.org for ticket details and reservations.


Other Desert Cities at Sherman -- Schroko & Colburn

Lyman and Polly Wyeth (Steve Schroko and Kit Colbourn) share a happy, quiet moment in Other Desert Cities. The Sherman Players will continue its intense and exquisite production of Jon Robin Baitz's powerful drama for three more weekends.

-Agnes Fohn photo


Other Desert Cities at Sherman -- Nestor & Squires

Siblings Brooke (Reesa Nestor) and Trip (John Squires) can laugh, before the tensions build, in a scene from The Sherman Players production of Other Desert Cities.


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