What does it take for someone to let go of their mediocre expectations of life and follow their dreams? Usually it's something extraordinary or catastrophic. In Horsechart Theatre's current production, it's a swan crashing into Dora Hand's front window that sends her, a middle-aged nurse in Nebraska, on a life altering journey.
Kathryn Gray, as Dora, is a perfect study of existential confusion, drawn by the beauty and growing poetic nature of the swan, yet reluctant to give up the predictable safety of her affair with the milkman, Kevin. Donald Ryan's quirky, earnest Kevin is a model of deadpan inanity, setting up counseling sessions one minute and attacking the swan with a vacuum cleaner the next. Brett Aune, as Bill the swan, fuses a gawky, aggressive honking creature, an emotionally fragile cross-species immigrant, and an otherworldly poetic Pan into a compelling deus ex machina—a device that resolves the plot.
Will Dora metamorphose her ugly duckling life into a graceful swan or chug a Bud and elope with the milkman? Unfortunately, Elizabeth Egloff's script is too choppy to nurture us into caring enough about Dora to have much of a catharsis when she makes her momentous decision. The scenes pile up with increasing urgency, but our glimpses of Dora's resonance with the swan's song are so fleeting, we are left to wonder whether he is just another escape from reality rather than a viable and exalted alternative.
Horsechart Theatre's production of The Swan, directed by Philip Russell, runs through February 9th in the Dorie at the Denver Civic Theatre. 303-595-3800.