By JOSEPH GARAY
It was a cold night, Thursday, Feb. 11, as audience members rushed into the University of Mary Washington’s Klein Theatre, located in duPont Hall, and filled their seats. Little did they know, the topic of the newest play “Frozen” would be just as bone-chilling as the cold night air they just escaped from.
The title of the play can easily mislead a person to think it is related to the recent animated film “Frozen.” However, it is not. There are no reindeer, no talking piles of snow with a carrot for a nose. Instead, the audience witnesses a story that is far more realistic and far more terrifying.
According to the UMW Theatre’s website, “Frozen” depicts what happens after a ten year-old girl, named Rhona, goes missing from a small town in England. The story focuses on the mother, Nancy, played by Margaret Lewis, who retreats into herself and to a state of paralyzing longing for her daughter’s safe return.
The story of the serial killer, Ralph, played by Jake Crowley, also takes center stage. His story is intertwined with that of Agnetha, played by Jackie Filicko, a psychiatrist from New York who seeks out Ralph for her research into the mind of a serial killer. It is through these characters thatthe play explores the possibility to forgive someone for an unthinkable act.
UMW Theatre’s rendition of Bryony Lavery’s “dark play about horrific circumstances” certainly makes the audience uneasy. This is particularly evident with the opening, where the audience is greeted with Agnetha as she is preparing to leave for England; watching as she breaks down crying.
This unease is further perpetuated by the fact that, for the majority of the play, none of the characters share a scene together; each delivering a lengthy monologue. The few interactions near the end proved to be some of the strongest scenes. Particularly when Nancy meets Ralph, and shows him pictures her daughter Rhona.
Despite the unease that this play creates, the audience is nonetheless transfixed, due in large part to the performances of the cast members.
The student cast: Jackie Filicko, Jake Crowley and Margaret Lewis, all did their best to tell this harrowing story. Margaret Lewis, in particular, did an amazing job, portraying Nancy, a mother who struggles to cope with the loss of her child and who, after many decades, faces her daughter’s murderer and does something that very few people would do—forgive him.
Crowley and Filicko both do a great job with their characters, Agnetha and Ralph. Though they have the two roles that an audience is less likely to connect with and like, they effectively made the audience think about not only the victim but the murderer as well, making them ponder what could make a person do such horrible acts and whether there is room for forgiveness.
The play is also greatly helped by the set. Though few people tend to take note of the set, it is hard to miss in this particular play. It is a set of contrasts: from Rhona’s room, which was full of warmth and childhood belongings, at least at the beginning, to Ralph’s dwelling which was bare and cold. The creators of the set clearly put thought into their work and it resulted in a great set.
“Frozen” opened on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 in the Klein Theatre. The play will continue through to Sunday, Feb. 21.