Eric J. Park and Jessica Ruth Baker take time to tango in Welcome to the White Room. (Britt Olsen Ecker)
For some people, there is a very fine line between reality and illusion. Even Edgar Allan Poe once asked, “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”
Illusions are enigmatic, but what happens when the lines are completely blurred and life takes on the kind of dream-like twist that only eating an entire meat-lovers pizza just before bed can induce? Pure whimsy – which may be the best way to describe Trish Harnetiaux’s new play, Welcome to the White Room, the current production at Glass Mind Theatre.
Neatly directed by Chris Cotterman, Welcome to the White Room throws three strangers together in a nondescript arena, accessible only by a mail slot in a sealed front door.
As the play unfolds, the strangers grapple with a number of games, the first being a device which has the power to recreate visceral sensations of past body movements. A series of short notes (delivered through the aforementioned mail slot) follow, leaving the perplexed pawns to negotiate several weird scenarios which the queer little letters lay out. We learn that flying is not for everybody. A simple game of cards turns into a tasty meal. And a kiss can transmit a form of kinetic energy.
Through it all, the audience is left to wonder, “Who is orchestrating this odd encounter?”
To describe much more would give away the punch line. Suffice it to say, the net result is surprisingly nuanced, and the four actors who appear on stage keep the audience glued to all of the absurdity the White Room has to offer.
Jessica Ruth Baker is wickedly enticing as the savvy and sexy Ms. White. Eric J. Park almost steals the show as the rubbery rascal Mr. Paine. Kevin Griffin Moreno, as the dignified Jennings, adds an air of clear mindedness to the convoluted confrontation. And Justin Lawson Isett, playing Patrick, drops in late as the perplexed protagonist of the gallant gaming trio.
On the technical side, Brad Ranno’s lights and sound work well in creating an other-worldly feeling. The simple white set by Michelle Datz is surprisingly beguiling. Choreographer Jessica Ruth Baker has the actors moving with ease, and Stephanie Parks’ smart costuming caps the creative endeavor.
Welcome to the White Room is a peculiar little tale, but it is thoroughly enjoyable in all its eccentric turns and is highly recommended.
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Welcome to the White Room is the opener to Glass Mind’s Season 5: Bound, consisting of all never-produced works. This world premiere by Trish Harnetiaux will be followed later this season by productions of:
> Untitled – by Joshua Conkel
> The Oresteia – Adapted/Directed by Lynn Morton & Ann Turiano
> Brainstorm Vol.5: Ties That Bind.
Glass Mind Theatre is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.
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Welcome To The White Room runs now – December 14 at Gallery 788 in Hampden, Hon. Running time for the play is just a little more than an hour. Gallery 788 is located at 3602 Hickory Ave. Tickets and other information may be found by visiting Glass Mind Theatre online.
Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A one-time newsboy for the Evening Sun and professional presence at the Washington Herald, Tony’s poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!, Destination Maryland, Magic Octopus Magazine, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Voice of Baltimore, SmartCEO, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. If you notice that his work has been purloined, please let him know. As the Good Book says, “Thou shalt not steal.”