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Incredible Journey

Brilliant Traces
Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Divorcée: John Robinson kneels before a hovering Natasha Yannacone in "Brilliant Traces," playing this weekend at the Broadway Playhouse.

Photo by Paul Schraub



'Brilliant Traces' heats the hall with all the right, cool moves

By Sarah Phelan

AS AN ALASKAN SNOWSTORM RAGES outside, swallowing everything up into white nothingness, there's a desperate knocking on Henry Harry's cabin door. As Henry struggles out of his bed, in rushes the tragically beautiful Rosannah Deluce, dressed in nothing but her sweat-stained bridal gown and lacy, satin shoes.

Thus begins Brilliant Traces, Cindy Lou Johnson's beautifully crafted one-act play about a man and a woman who meet in the middle of nowhere, and are attracted and repulsed by turns as they undertake an incredibly passionate journey within the symbolic confines of Henry's starkly decorated cabin.

Under David Prisk's capable direction, Natasha Yannacone gives a fine performance as the bride-to-be, who hurtles into Henry's self-imposed solitude and helps herself to his whiskey and pretzels while he looks on stunned.

John Robinson is outstanding as the rumpled Henry, trying to white out his past and avoid the relationship roller coaster by hiding out in the Great White North. Then life seeks him out, and Rosannah's sudden arrival and her delicate little shoes trigger an emotional thaw in him.

When Rosannah passes out on the floor next to her impossibly papery shoes, Henry does something absurd: He cooks her shoes. This seemingly innocuous act quickly becomes as familiar and as mystical as leaving the cap off the toothpaste or burning the toast--with a shared reference point between them, the two now have something to forgive and forget, to whine and complain about, thereby giving them a shortcut into the dynamics of an intimate relationship.

Pretty soon our protagonists are shifting direction as suddenly and as often as the Arctic wind howling outside, reenacting all too familiar patterns of behavior as they get deeper into their relationship. In this sense, the show offers us a realistic slice of life, even if it is in a somewhat extreme situation. Okay, so they're holed up somewhere in Alaska--but we all know what it's like to say and do crazy stuff in the heat of the moment. And while this is drama, think of it as absurd theater with undertones of the natural humor and comedy we unintentionally get in our daily lives.

As the play unravels the characters' painful pasts, it goes full circle and ends on a redeeming note. For though Rosannah and Henry have experienced pain and loss in their lives, leaving them with a personalized collection of emotional scars, these scars haven't left them with numbing calluses, but rather with indelible and inspired traces--brilliant traces--that give them the courage to go forward and seek redemption.


Brilliant Traces plays 8pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through this weekend at the Broadway Playhouse, 526 Broadway, Santa Cruz. Proceeds benefit the Hospice Caring Project. Call 469-5300 for ticket reservations.

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From the December 5-11, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.


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