David Auburn is best known for Proof; his Lost Lake was unknown to me, but I was eager to see something else by the playwright, whose work I admire. I’m so pleased that Berkshire Theatre Group chose this show with which to close their summer season – such an inspired choice, both touching and bittersweet, perfect for the melancholy that sets in with the onset of the cooler weather.
Veronica (Lynnette R. Freeman) visits a remote lakefront rental in the spring to see if it will be suitable for a weeklong summer vacation she’s planning for herself and her children; the owner, Hogan (Quentin Maré) seems a bit off, but the price is right and the location suitable, so she decides to go for it. When she arrives, Hogan hasn’t made the repairs he’s promised, and is hanging around much more than she’d like. However, the two, both bruised by life, form an unlikely bond that may just be what they both need.
The realism in this production – in all aspects: the acting, writing, direction and set – are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Randall Parsons’s set design is gorgeous – as a huge fan of lakefront camps and a person who’s visited a number of them, I wanted to immediately pick up and move in. It’s also an extremely functional set – windows and drawers that stick, screen doors that slam, plenty for the actors to use while onstage. Daisy Walker’s direction is impeccable – she allows the actors room to breathe and play around one another. Nothing seems forced, all actions are organic and due to this (and Auburn’s honest, truthful writing) you could swear you are watching something unfolding to two real people in real time.
Freeman and Maré are wonderful – so comfortable on stage and in their own skin and so honest with the audience and one another. Freeman reveals bits of herself as the show progresses in small bursts, each one adding up to create a whole, rounded human being. Maré’s character is so truthful it was as if I’d met him before – a man struggling with what he’d lost and seeing no path forward for himself, yet trying his best to be as good of a man as he could, to do what he could with what he had. The intimacy of the writing and their performances was stunning – each gesture truthful, each scene building upon itself with meaning and honesty. It’s a glimpse into two people’s lives, two people we’re rooting for, and we leave feeling as if we know them as well as we know anyone in our own social circle.
Life isn’t all big moments and grand gestures – sometimes it’s what unfolds quietly over a week in a remote summer cabin on the lake. Everything in this production takes that into account, and the result is a hushed masterpiece, one that hits the audience emotionally and leaves them a bit breathless. Auburn has shown, again, his work is some of the finest, and thank you to BTG for showcasing that for us.
“Lost Lake”; Berkshire Theatre Group, 6 East St., Stockbridge, MA; through October 22; $50; Run time: 90 minutes; www.berkshiretheatregroup.org