A new approach

By By Lisa Anderson

By Lisa Anderson

Joan Ackermann’s “Ice Glen” is a bit of a departure for Salt Lake Acting Company, but Director David Mong said he found the play and its characters so charming that he was compelled to stage it anyway.

The play has been a refreshing change, as SLAC generally deals with edgy comedy and pushing envelopes of one variety or another. “Ice Glen” is a reflective, sweet piece with a gentle style of comedy with which audiences aren’t often graced. Ackermann leaves out the dirty jokes and derision, instead offering laughs in a softer, more earnest package, originating from deeper, more human levels.

The story takes place in a run-down country estate in the Berkshires of Massachusetts in 1919. The proprietor of the home is Mrs. Bainbridge (played by Alexandra Harbold), a lovely young widow floundering in the wake of her husband’s unexpected departure and the subsequent changes in her once bustling and affluent world.

Remaining are the jovially complaining cook/housekeeper Mrs. Roswell (Dee Macaluso) and the iconic butler, Grayson (Don Glover). Two former wards of Mr. Bainbridge remain as well: Sarah Harding and Denby, who offer what they can to keep the house running. Recent U actor training program graduate Josh Pierson plays Denby, a mentally challenged young man who was orphaned in a terrible fire. Pierson does an amazing job of playing a child in a grown-up’s body, crafting a Denby can be beloved by all.

Sarah (played by Tracie Merrill) is a free-spirited and solitary poet who has ardently taken on the role of gardener. She rejected an imperfect marriage and moved to the woods, seeking only to connect with nature-and never intending to share her poems.

The action begins as Mr. Woodburn (Mark Gollaher) arrives on a train from Boston. He is the senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly and bears an offer to publish Sarah’s poems. He is shocked at her reaction to him and his offer, and as he prolongs his one-day visit, the shadow of a love triangle falls across the stage.

Costume designer K.L. Alberts’ experience is evident in the carefully detailed clothing of one of the loveliest fashion eras.

Watching this play feels like reading a good book-a classic. There is humor and truth with just a dash of love as the characters are surrounded with and pervaded by nature.

Photo Courtesy www.saltlakeactingcompany.org

Alexandra Harbold, Josh Pierson, Dee Macaluso and Mark Gollaher exchange pleasantries across a table in Ice Glen.