Sunday, November 06, 2016

Well performed ANNAPURNA ends fall season at none too fragile

Ulysses, a former college professor and well-published poet, has been living off the grid for over twenty years.  His wife and son assumed he was dead. 

A search of her mother’s home, after the old woman dies, allows Emma, Ulysses’ former wife, to find several boxes of letters and poems that Ulysses had sent to Sam, his son, but were never delivered to the partially deaf boy.

With information from the letters, and the help of a private investigator, Emma searches out Ulysses and finds him in a desolate town in Colorado, living in a run-down trailer park, nearly penniless.  When she arrives she finds him dressed only in an apron, a backpack containing his oxygen tank, and in the final stages of emphysema.

Emma enters the trailer carrying suitcases, bags of food, and years of pent-up hatred.   She, fled one night with then five-year-old Sam, has lots of stuff to unload…both physically and emotionally.

The couple bicker, spar about Emma invading his life, his rejection of medical help, an on-going feud with a neighbor, and that their Sam may soon be arriving.

Truths unravel and the defining moment that caused the disintegration of their lives together, is revealed in an emotionally charged scene.

The title, ANNAPURNA, refers to the mountain in the Himalayas, the tenth tallest in the world, which is one of the most dangerous to climb.  Ironically, in Sanskrit Annapurna means “full of food.”

The play is Sharr White’s modern day parallel to Homer’s 8th century poem, “The Odyssey.”  That epic tells the tale of Ulysses, who was sent on a long journey because he displeased the god Poseidon.  Like the Ulysses of old, the modern day Ulysses was also on a journey, an expedition of escape and regret, filled with a failed career, drunkenness, illness and self-hate.

none too fragile’s production, under the adept direction of Sean Derry, is both funny and emotionally charged.  The performance quality exceeds the script itself, which is generally formulaic in structure. 

As is always the case, Derdriu Ring (Emma) develops a beautifully textured, clear characterization.  She rides the emotional waves and milks a great deal from the lines.

Jeffrey Grover creates a bitter and deflecting Ulysses’ in escape from pain and reality.  His final emotionally wrought scene is a masterstroke of performance.  

Capsule judgement:  ANNAPURNA is the tale of two highly damaged people, caught in an impossible climb to the top of an impregnable mountain, confronting their lives.

For tickets to “ANNAPURNA which runs through November 19, 2016, at none too fragile theater in Akron, call 330-671-4563 or go to

The theatre has announced its ambitious 2017 season which includes:  THE WHALE, A SKULL IN CONNEMARA, SALVAGE, IMPENDING RUPTURE OF THE BELLY, LAST OF THE BOYS and A STEADY RAIN.  Check its website for information about the plays and how to obtain season tickets and receive an artist Don Drumm creation.