In a house of Southern discomfort past history and brokenness is finally brought to the family dinner table after nearly 40 years. Shutter by Leslie Anne Ross captures the story of failure and redemption, hatred and love, tension and triumph for a small family in North Carolina through unique and relatable situations.
Shutter follows newlywed Rebecca Nickolonos (Alexia Poe) as she flees her husband Spiros (Isa Seyran) after demands of married life prove insufferable. She is in search of the flickering happiness of her past, which brings her to a sleepy town in North Carolina where her first cousin, Clay Hill (Ian Wade) and her grandparents, Christine Tilson (Kathy Morton Young) and Alfred Tilson (Bob Smith) still reside. In just 24 hours of Rebecca’s arrival a lifetime of secrets and deception unwrap for this family. Shutter captures an innovative spirit of the early 90’s and the old time tension of generational problems within families.
This show is distinctly unique in the fact that it tells the universal story of all of us, perfect imperfection in varying degrees. Every cast member played their character completely honest and unapologetic which can be somewhat of a rarity. Altogether, the performance and chemistry of Shutter’s ensemble was captivatingly heart-felt.
The heartbeat of Shutter follows the young firecracker Rebecca as she searches for peace from her scarred emotions. Poe’s portrayal of Rebecca was spontaneous, honest, and kept the audience on their toes.
Rebecca’s extremely controlling and cold grandmother (Christine Tilson) had a phenomenal performance as well. Although her character’s general demeanor pushed people away, Young discovered a balance between the lines and the subtext which pulled the audience right into the living room with her.
Gerald Tilson, Rebecca’s Father (Leland Shook) was memorable because of his complete commitment to the character. Always engaged, always on, Shook was the exact embodiment of his rough, brash character.
Isa Seyran, Spiros, provided much appreciated comic relief just as the audience was in danger of crumbling along with some of the characters. Ian Wade, as Clay, was both likable and admirable as the man who had moved on from their childhood but was still Rebecca’s anchor. And Bob Smith as the never complaining, long-suffering grandfather reminded us that it’s often the quiet ones who know a thing or two about what’s really going on.
The show’s technical aspect was effective and nearly flawless. Costumes designed by Leslie Anne Ross and the cast reflected each individual character and stayed true to the time period. Lighting design by D. Scott Graham was effective, and sound design by Chris Knarr gave a bit of white noise, which made the play that much more life-like. The story of our own lives can sometimes be the hardest to tell truthfully and unapologetically yet this cast was up to the challenge. Nothing was pretentious about their work; they simply were who they were. Leslie Anne Ross has a bright future ahead with Shutter for many years to come.
Running Time: Two hours, plus one 15-minute intermission.
Leslie Anne Ross’ ‘Shutter’ Opens Tomorrow Night at The Alliance Theatre by Darrell Poe and Alice Yarborough.