Shadows in Bloom

[The following review appeared on the week of August 27th.]

We all hear voices in our head, but Gemma Wilcox acts them out in front of live audiences. What sets her one-actor, multiple-personality performance apart is the personal nature of the subject matter and the fine distinctions she draws in her characters. In the world premiere of Shadows in Bloom, we are as voyeurs at a confessional, riveted by the admissions of Sandra, Wilcox's alter-ego, as she moves to London to start a new life after a divorce. The story is the fourth and final act in Wilcox's award-winning series that includes Menage a Dix, The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over, and Leela's Wheel (Pick of the Fringe 2005 - Boulder and Best Of Austin FronteraFest 2002 & 2003).

Dream sequence from Shadows in Bloom
Dream sequence from
Shadows in Bloom
Interjecting brief, but telling outbursts of her innermost desires into the fabric of her everyday conversations, Wilcox taps into the audience's secrets as well. From there we are carried along by the unavoidable truth in this young woman's journey as she navigates the perilous challenges of love and work while remaining true to herself.

Tea time from Shadows in Bloom
Tea time from
Shadows in Bloom

An actress by trade, Sandra has given up the stage and taken a cleaning job, as if doing penance for her failed marriage. While moving into her new apartment, she is befriended by her next door neighbor, a wise crone in the guise of Flora, a sweet, old lady with an enchanted garden.

Cigarette break in Shadows in Bloom
Cigarette break in
Shadows in Bloom

In-between her characterizations of still-healing Sandra, the stooped, cane-reliant Flora with a wavering soprano, the cocksure Pete, her deep-voiced boyfriend, and a menagerie of plants, dolls, and lounge lizards, Wilcox offers glimpses of Sandra's dreams—subconscious dance-infused sequences that integrate her recent experiences with her psyche.

Gemma Wilcox in Shadows in Bloom
Gemma Wilcox in Shadows in Bloom
Wilcox moves easily through the nuances of London's class-tinged dialects and accents, mixing vocal virtuosity with imaginative expressions and postures to herald each new personality, establishing a set of instantly recognizable icons that facilitate quick-paced, multi-character conversations, with only an occasional sundry pantomime to dull the pace. David Ortolano's lighting and Shana Cordon's sound design enhance the quick shifts in mood and dimension.

When Pete fails to pan out, Wilcox catalyzes Sandra's redemption through the intercession of Flora, who draws Sandra back to her calling—acting. Here, Wilcox's script draws parallels to Perdita, the Bard's princess posing as a milk maid, employing her lovely monologue from "The Winter's Tale" (IV, iv) to leave us with the fragrance of wildflowers grown from the humus of earlier blooms.

Boulder Fringe Festival ticket sales or 720-563-9950.

Bob Bows


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