Salt Acting Company Brings “Winter”

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Salt Acting Company Brings “Winter”

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This season, the Salt Lake Acting Company has produced “Winter,” a new play by Julie Jensen.

Inspired by a portion of the book “Ending Life: Ethics and the Way We Die,” by Margaret Pabst Battin, “Winter” examines how we handle issues of aging, illness and death. The play itself is not as dire as the concept sounds. In fact, Jensen has brought an incredible amount of humanity into the discussion.

As the play begins, the audience meets Annis, an aging writer who has begun suffering from mental episodes and is attempting to make sense of what is happening to her and how she wants to address it with her family. Her situation opens up a conversation with her husband, Robeck, concerning an arrangement they made years ago to “go out together” when the time came. As idealistic as their plan may have been, Annis begins to realize that their paths must diverge. To complicate matters further, her sons, Evan and Roddy, are coming to visit, each with their own ideas of what mom and dad should do now that they are older.

2016oct08-slac_djd1995Anne Cullimore Decker plays Annis with remarkable accuracy and attention to detail. Her performance has a naturalness and simplicity that speak to how commonplace these situations are. Many individuals are going through precisely the same story. It is this gentle performance that opens a window into “Winter” and invites the audience into their living room, whether or not said audience is ready to think about their own families or parents getting old.

The design of the play created a physical world that mirrored Annis’ experience, especially in the set. The upstairs theater was transformed to feel like a home, complete with piles of mail and stacks of books. As Annis progresses on her journey, however, pieces of her life are taken away and replaced with large, white moving boxes. Her world is slowly losing color and texture. The audience can feel it too. Throughout her story, the2016oct08-slac_djd2150 audience is granted glimpses into Annis’ episodes. Dramatic changes in the lighting and the piano score give an immediate, visceral response to the action on stage, helping the audience understand Annis’ unsettling memory glitches.
As much as people may want to avoid it, life goes on, whether or not we can keep up. “Winter” is a beautiful portrayal of the fluid nature of relationships, which constantly shift and readjust throughout a person’s life. It chooses a soft touch and a gentle hand over fear of the unknown and gives a reminder of the power and resilience that resies within everyone, whether they know it or not.

For information about “Winter,” go to www.saltlakeactingcompany.org. The play opened on Oct. 12, and will run through Nov. 13. Tickets are sold out for the rest of the run, but information about other upcoming shows at SLAC are available. (Students can also purchase discounted tickets for other shows this season at the box office — just be sure to bring your ID!)

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