The play, "The Women of Lockerbie," which closed Sunday at the Walla Walla Community College theater was a triumph.
Theater performances are illusive. Unlike film they have a limited lifespan.
If you miss it, the experience will never pass this way again. On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to see that play, I'm sure you will never forget it.
I have sung the praises of Kevin Loomer's work before because of his ability to get solid, consistent performances from his actors. Loomer usually chooses comedies for his students, but this time he decided to attempt an actual contemporary tragedy based on events surrounding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Specific details of that airplane explosion over Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, may be dim in our minds, however, the feelings of pain and loss experienced by both Americans and Scots who lost loved ones that day are illuminated in this play.
Catharsis arises in a theatrical performance when the players, through thematic lines in the play, connect with the audience on a personal level. The result is the actors help the audience understand something of human existence that we all share. It is a kind of collective meditation.
The result is a sense of clarity regarding the central subject of the play. In the case of "The Women of Lockerbie," the subject is grief. Grief for the events that befall the characters in the play, for their sense of loss, but in a larger sense, it is grief for the trials we all face.
Why would someone want to see such a play? Actually, meditation on the human condition is one of the main reasons for the existence of theater. Dramatizations of heroic stories helped earlier civilizations understand existence in both its losses and its triumphs. In comedy, the audience responds with laughter, in tragedy the audience responds with understanding.
The actors, Deva Parrish, Miles McGee, Dyani Turner, Sarah Hemenway, Brianne Roberson, Katelyn Schiller, Jocelyn Hagar, and Kyle Finn under the direction of Loomer were able to make that connection in "The Women of Lockerbie."
In about an hour and a half, the actors led their audience through the repercussions of a tragic event to reveal our common sense of grief and loss, and finally, were able to shine a light on the path of triumph. Good show!