Friday, January 19, 2018

Take Your Pick Productions Presents "Lost Girls" by John Pollono - Through January 21st - A MUST SEE!

 

My busy January schedule meant that I was not able to see the amazing Take Your Pick Production's "Lost Girls" until near the end of the run, so I must instill a sense of urgency in readers of The White Rhino Report. See this show this weekend: Friday at 8:00, Saturday at 4:00 and 8:00, and Sunday at 2:00 at Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.

This play is brilliantly written, and just as brilliantly produced and skillfully acted by this company of performers. The story is like Chekhov running on Dunkin'! The great Russian playwright tended to focus on the dysfunctions of members of the aristocracy in Russia, struggling with existential despair and ennui in the countryside in the days before the Revolution. John Pollono, on the other hand, focuses a harsh spotlight on the beleaguered denizens of the blue collar working class of the mill towns of Northern New England. In the case of "Lost Girls," we meet a struggling family of French Canadian heritage living on the edge of poverty and underemployment in Manchester, NH. Mr. Pollono writes with a precise voice that gives the audience a clear sense of place - beginning with the opening voice-over of a local FM radio station DJ, with full Granite State accent, talking about the wicked bad snow storm raging outside.

The playwright also artfully limns every character, each one uniquely flawed, but interesting enough that I found myself caring about the fate of each of them. The opening snowstorm stands as a metaphor for the forces that blow that bring misfortune and uncertainty to each of the principals. They are:

  • Audrey Lynn Sylvia as Maggie, a middle aged single Mom struggling to pay the mortgage and the electric each month, trying to care for her rebellious teenage daughter. She shares a home with her parasitic mother, Linda, who seems to have given up on life, except for the chance to berate her daughter and ex-son-in-law at every opportunity. Ms. Sylvia is marvelous in exuding the rage and panic that grips Maggie, who is hanging onto solvency and sanity by a jagged fingernail. If the storm and her stolen car cause her to miss her shift working minimum wage retail at the mall, she will be in default of her mortgage, and the electric will once again be shut off.
  • Christine Power is perfect as Linda, Maggie' mother and nemesis. She is part of a long line of strong, yet bedraggled women, who found themselves pregnant as teenagers, and who scrape and claw their way through life, surviving the ebb and flow of men who may make love to them, but never really love them or know them. Resignation and defeat oozes from every pore, until Linda sees a chance to get Penny to brave the storm with her and head out to buy some booze and pizza - on Penny's dime, of course.
  • Terrence P. Haddad is Lou, Maggie's ex-husband, now married to Born Again Penny. Lou is a cop who has a history of alcohol abuse. He stops by to fill out paperwork about Maggie's stolen car. Mr. Haddad is adept at conveying the complex nature of Lou. His cop's bravura is a thin patina that tries to camouflage the sensitive and broken man cowering beneath the surface.
  • Lauren Foster is just right as Penny, spewing religious cliches as she tries ham-handedly to play mediator among Maggie, Lou, and Linda. The scenes of conflict in the simple kitchen often resemble the chaotic set of a Jerry Spring episode.
  • Lesley Anne Moreau is both strong and vulnerable as Girl. This teenager has run away from home in New Hampshire to drive to Florida to meet up with a much older man who has seduced her. She has convinced one of her high school classmates to skip school to drive her all the way to Florida. They only make it as far as Connecticut, and have to hide out in a flea bag motel until they figure out what to do.
  • Zach Winston is Boy, Girl's classmate, chauffeur, and co-conspirator. Mr. Winston brings wondrous vulnerability to this complex teenage boy, full of the ambivalence of adolescence - cock-sure of himself one moment, and a scared puppy the next.
The writing is of such a high quality that low humor often gives way to pathos. I felt as if I were experiencing the positive and negative G forces of a finely engineered roller coaster ride. I laughed out loud several times, and then sighed with understanding and empathy as a character's pain was revealed. And there is a plot twist that took my breath away.

Melanie Garber Directs and is also Scenic Designer. Audrey Seraphin is Sound Designer and Assistant Director. Michael Clark Wonson is Lighting Designer. Mikey DiLoreto is Costume Coordinator.

Just as the quintessence of the film "Citizen Kane" is distilled in the name "Rosebud," this play is captured in the name "McSorley's"! Wait for it.

Consider this play a MUST SEE - if you can get there this weekend.

Enjoy!

Al

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review of "The Compass Solution" by Tim Cole - A Guide To Winning Your Career


Author Tim Cole offers "The Compass Solution" as a way of sharing lessons he has learned in over three decades working as an executive and leader in the pharmaceutical industry. He uses many excellent examples and vignettes to bring to life the central theme of the book: that there are four major compass points in any successful career. They are:

  • Personal Accountability
  • People
  • Process
  • Perspective

Later in the book, he elaborates on three keys that will allow an individual to accelerate career growth and productivity. He calls these three elements the "Key Chain":

  • Leadership 
  • Communication
  • Learning


He writes, not as one sharing hypothetical concepts, but as one who has weathered the storm of numerous downsizings, mergers, and acquisitions in his thirty-seven years of building a career for himself.

Early in the book, he outlines his view of how this all comes together.

"Think of it this way. There will always be just you, the people around you, the world that surrounds you, and how you interpret each.  In the context of the opening of this book, there will always be - 
You - the hiker (Personal accountability)
Your fellow hikers (People)
The mountain and its nuances - weather,topography, etc. (Process)
How you choose to look at the above three points (Perspective)

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

It's not! "(page 7)

This book is valuable no matter where you may be on your journey to building a satisfying career.

In simple language and deep truth, "The Compass Solution" provides an important series of vantage points from which to view one's career and life outside of work.

Enjoy!

Al