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Review by Jack Tucker of The Contra Costa Times, published October 5, 2001

Beautiful, But Elusive
Review by Jack Tucker for the Contra Costa Times
October 5, 2001

In a playwright's note to her original play, "Approach," Susan Wiegand used the phrase "fractured, kaleidoscope-like." Although she was applying the words to herself as reflected in the play's four characters, the phrase is an apt description of the play as well.

As staged, directed, and acted by Shotgun Players, "Approach" is a stunningly beautiful piece of work.

Michael Frassinelli's set -- towering, pastel-mottled slabs, draped from above in a corner of Berkeley's Eighth Studio Theatre -- establishes a calming, timeless and undefined place for the play to unfold.

Katie Bales Frassinelli's direction is confident and fluid throughout this unbroken 85-minute production.

Michael and Katie were married this summer and his scenic design could not be a more loving gift for his bride.

And the actors -- Mary Eaton Fairfield as simply woman; Aaron Lucich (man); Brent Rosenbaum (boy), and Marin Van Young (girl) -- move through the text of this search for love and trust with easy grace and impeccable diction, oscillating between angst and ecstasy.

So much for the kaleidoscopic aspect of "Approach."

Fractured -- and the word is not used in a pejorative sense -- is perhaps what Wiegand aimed to achieve, for life is like that, splintered and full of shards, some of which have sharp edges that can cut.

This is a work of internal dialogue, musing, rambling, inevitably self-indulgent -- given the playwright's own description of the process: "There was never a concept nor even a desire to write a play. ... The play emerged one night suddenly as text in the form of dialogue." As such, "Approach" will probably inspire as many interpretations as audience members it attracts to this well-staged, but elusive work.

Plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 27 at 2525 Eighth St., Berkeley. Call 510-655-0813.

Jack Tucker's column runs Fridays in the West County Weekly. Send items of interest to him c/o the West County Weekly, 4301 Lakeside Drive, Richmond, CA 94806; fax to 5l0 262-2776; e-mail to, or call 510 262-2768. Include a contact name and number.


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