Artists’ Ensemble closes season with On the Verge…

Artists’ Ensemble Theatre is presenting the final show of its second season.

On the Verge…or the Geography of Yearning, written by Eric Overmyer and directed by Richard Raether, is a tale of three Victorian women who set out on an expedition to explore mysterious Terra Incognita.

It’s a marvelously crafted story. The dialog is intricate. I had the esteemed pleasure of sitting next to my idol, Rod MacDonald. MacDonald leaned over at one point and said, “Did you get it?” I told him I would have a lengthy list of vocabulary words to look up. While the play contains words that we’ve long ago archived, it is a delight to hear them so eloquently brought back to life.

Pat Staaf plays Mary, the presumed leader of the group. Staaf’s character wishes never to give up the journey. She is still yearning, still on the verge, an inspirational message for all of us to do our own soul-searching.

Margaret Raether plays Fannie, who transforms from prude to the lady in red.

Katie Maringer-Corirossi, playing Alexandra wonderfully, mixes her words and crusades for the wearing of trousers for women!

Stephen F. Vrtol III plays a few characters who weave in and out of the journey. Never have I seen such a charming cannibal. Traveling sometimes brings out the best and worst in people.

This story is a great illustration of how some prefer the jungle to the mountains. Each character has her own reasons for traveling, in the name of anthropology, in the name of tabloids, in the name of jingle writing. I believe that to be typical of most travelers. So, if you don’t want to have to worry about bird flu, see On the Verge.

Performance dates are May 19-21 and May 26-28. For tickets, call 226-4100.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the May 17-23, 2006, issue

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