Theatre Info for the Richmond region

HATTheatre The Quality of Life

By • Feb 12th, 2014 • Category: Reviews
The Quality of Life
HATTheatre: (Info) (Web)
HATTheatre, Richmond, VA
Through February 16th
Running Time: 2:30 with intermission
$22/$18 seniors/$12 youth/students with ID
Reviewed February 9th, 2014

In a month filled with some of the best shows I’ve been privileged to see in the Richmond area, HATTheatre’s production of The Quality of Life is not only a “quality” production; but it is also a shining example of what the Acts of Faith Festival is all about.

Two cousins, Jeannette (Jacqueline Jones) and Dinah (Kerrigan Webb Sullivan) live far apart — both geographically and in the way they live their lives. Each is facing tragedies in their lives. Straight laced, Midwestern Christians Dinah and her husband Bill (Scott Melton) have lost their only daughter in a brutal murder. Jeannette and her husband Neil (Michael Hawke) who are the epitome of the laid back love child generation, have lost just about everything they own in a California wildfire; and Neil is also in the final stages of terminal cancer.

Both couples must find a way to deal with their grief and make it through the day. Dinah and Bill choose their religion while Jeannette and Neil use “pagan” and worldly means (a little wine, and a little marijuana). Jeannette and Neil are a combination of Roseanne, the Keatons (“Family Ties”) and Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy all rolled up into one.

HATTheatre’s intimate stage is the perfect venue for this intimate tale, where these characters in the hands of the talented veteran cast bare their souls. Director Deejay Gray masterfully allows his actors to perform from their hearts and utilize even silence, stage business and physical gestures powerfully.

Melton and Sullivan effectively display a couple who must mask their feelings in an attempt to be strong for one another. However it is the brilliant performances of Hawke and Jones which make it nearly impossible to not shed a tear or two. It is also nearly impossible to not feel Neil’s physical pain as embodied by Hawke.

So many issues are explored in Jane Anderson’s script. How do you pick up the pieces after a tragedy? What do we do when we can’t change our circumstances? What is precious in our lives, yet what is more invaluable than our memories? In the end, do we let anger win by putting poison into our systems (like chemo)?

Gray, also designed the set along with Amber Davis and Vickie Scallion and created a perfect campsite on the spot where Jeannette and Neil’s home once sat. It uses the small stage space well to display essences of what was once a couple’s life. The opening and closing scene, however, also take place in Bill and Dinah’s living room, and I would have liked to see more of a delineation of the space with either a small moveable flat or more direct lighting.

Beyond that, this is a flawless dramatic comedy that will leave you talking about both the performers and life itself, well after you leave the theater.

Photo Gallery

Cast Scott Melton and Kerrigan Webb Sullivan
Scott Melton and Kerrigan Webb Sullivan
Jacqueline Jones and Michael Hawke Jacqueline Jones and Scott Melton
Jacqueline Jones and Michael Hawke
Jacqueline Jones and Scott Melton

Photos by Vickie L Scallion

The Cast

  • Neil: Michael Hawke
  • Jeannette: Jacqueline Jones
  • Bill: Scott Melton
  • Dinah: Kerrigan Webb Sullivan

The Crew

  • Director: Deejay Gray
  • Production Assistant: Amber Davis
  • Rehearsal Assistant: Kelsey Cordrey
  • Lighting Design: Michael Jarett
  • Scenic, Costume and Sound Design: Deejay Gray with Amber Davis and Vickie L. Scallion
  • Light Board Operator: Nick Dauley
  • House Manager/ Sound Board Operator: Vickie L. Scallion

Disclaimer: HATTheatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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