- Photo by Aaron Rumley
History, of both a textbook and a personal nature, define Lionel Goldstein’s new play, Mandate Memories, which is having its world premiere at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach under the direction of David Ellenstein.
A postcard-pleasant country house in Britain’s Berkshire County, circa 2009, is the setting for these significant history lessons, which have a deep-seated effect on Holocaust survivor Gustav Frolich (Apollo Dukakis) and the unsuspecting— but increasingly wary—Jane Stirling (Rosina Reynolds), owner and lone inhabitant of the house to whom Gustav pays a visit. Before that visit is over, dark secrets are revealed and Gustav’s and Jane’s lives will have changed in a way that will leave your heart in your throat.
The British Mandate for Palestine, which went into effect in 1923, was designed to administer parts of what had once been the Ottoman Empire. What it became was a dividing of Palestine that established a national home for the Jews. The mandate and its consequences are embedded in Gustav’s tortured past, and Jane believes that her father, whom she never knew, died a hero in a fight against terror. But what begins as a tense philosophical confrontation between the pair soon becomes chilling human drama as, at an almost achingly deliberate pace, Gustav tells Jane the truth behind her father’s death and the role he himself has played in her life ever since.
Goldstein and Ellenstein, North Coast Rep’s artistic director, previously worked together on the playwright’s Halpern and Johnson, and the seamlessness of their collaboration is clear in Mandate Memories’ effective shifts in tone and in the development of the complex relationship between Gustav and Jane. Dukakis and Reynolds are stalwart in their performances, the latter especially affecting in her stunned silences and internal torment as Gus shares with Jane some gut-wrenching realities.
Ever-present on a table in Jane’s living room, untouched, is the letter Gus has brought to her, written by her father to her mother. Its contents are not revealed, but by story’s end, you know it’s speaking to Jane’s heart—and possibly to ours.
Mandate Memories runs through May 4 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $41-$48. northcoastrep.org
18 Mighty Mountain Warriors: Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company teams with Pacific Arts Movement to present a sketch-comedy show featuring Asian-American actors. It runs April 18 and 20 at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center in Mission Valley. moolelo.net
Passion: Ion Theatre closes its eighth season with this Stephen Sondheim musical about a 19th-century soldier caught between his affair with a married woman and a mentally troubled woman’s love for him. Opens in previews on April 19 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Sister’s Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go To Heaven?: A seasonal one-woman comedy starring Kathryn Gallagher. Runs April 21 and 22 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Things My Mother Taught Me: A comedy about a young couple, who relocate from New York to Chicago and move in together for the first time, and their parents, who show up unexpectedly to help them get settled. Opens April 18 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com
Wagner New Play Festival: The annual series of plays—three full-lengths, two one-acts and a staged reading—written, directed and performed by UCSD graduate students. It runs April 16 through 26 on several UCSD stages. theatre.ucsd.edu
All My Sons: Arthur Miller’s award-winning drama, set in 1946, is about the lengths to which a successful businessman has gone in order to provide a secure financial future for his two sons. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through April 19 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: In this Stephen Sondheim musical farce, a slave in ancient Rome schemes to win his freedom by delivering the object of his young master’s affection, but, of course, everything goes haywire. Presented by Broadway Vista, it runs through April 20 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. broadwayvista.com
The Liar: An adaptation by David Ives of a 17th-century play about a man who tells multiple fibs as he courts one of two sisters, mistakenly believing she’s the other sibling. Through April 27 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Quilters: A musical about the lives of pioneer women in the American Old West. Through April 27 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Red: A successful abstract-expressionist painter must create a piece for the Four Seasons restaurant but is dogged by persistent challenges from his opinionated assistant. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through April 27 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org
Spring Awakening: That awakening is a sexual one, experienced by young adults in a small German town, set to music by Duncan Sheik. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens runs through April 27 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Tricks: This world premiere, presented by Chronos Theatre Group, is about two gay men who must confront their families, each other and themselves. For adult audiences. Through April 27 at 10th Avenue Theatre in East Village. chronostheatre.com
Mandate Memories: This is a world premiere of a drama about an elderly Holocaust survivor who pays a visit to a British woman whose father was killed by Jewish terrorists. Through May 4 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Time and the Conways: This philosophical drama follows a British family from hope in 1919 to desperation in 1937 and then returns to 1919 to show how things started to go wrong. Through May 4 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
To Kill a Mockingbird: The classic drama with the best character names in the history of film or theater: Atticus, Scout, Gem, Dill and Boo. Through May 4 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.com
Water by the Spoonful: The life of an Iraq War veteran intersects with those of four strangers in an Internet chat room for recovering drug addicts. Through May 11 at The Old Globe Theatre. oldglobe.org
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure: In this adaptation by Steven Dietz, the famous detective is at the end of his career but is drawn into one last case. Through May 18 at Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net