” BEFORE WE’RE GONE” at the 13th St. Repertory is a very productive play in that it gives the audience so much inside an hour and forty minutes. It’s plot is about a very successful women Kathleen Maguire(Leenya Rideout), she is an actress, writer, award winner in her craft and an activist. Her life was fast and loose, she is married and yet had many lovers. The person most influential in her life was Myron Glaser (Jay Russell), who played many different parts in this play. Russell played a priest, Richards father, Kathleens agent, a Fr. Cyprion and Mark. Myron she contends would never lie and take a bullet for her.
The play begins with her held up in a motel in Santa Barbara dying from brain cancer. It will be her last day on this earth. She has instructed her agent to release a letter she wrote to him to the press. The next scene takes us back in time to the Mapes Motel in Nevada. Kathleen is there to get a divorce from Mark who will not grant her one in New York City. It is here that she meets Richard Flynn (John Zdrojeski), a handsome Seminary Student who has taken a leave because he is having doubts about his commitment to the Priesthood. He is 20 years old, she is 36 but she is very attracted to him. He is an aspiring playwrite and Kathleen helps him in between her writing. Although Kathleen is mercurial and aloof, she genuinely wants to help him. Flynn is a naive young man in the ways of the world. He denies Kathleens advances and his faith becomes even more complicated. Kathleen is an atheist as well as a communist and her views conflict his beliefs.
In scene three, we meet Richards father who has had his son followed. He warns him of this women. He tells him that she is black listed and a whore and that she will hurt him. The father is also concerned about his lack of commitment to the faith. The father is also concerned about Myron Glazer being her friend. Glazer is public enemy number one amongst the un American Committee. Before act one ends, there is a great scene between Richard and Kathleen. She gives him all the reasons to sleep with her, he gives all the reasons why he shouldn’t. She resonates her thoughts about being a Catholic as she once was. He is steadfast to his faith and leaves her alone in her room, much to her frustration.
The second act ends with her dying, back to her last day on this earth. On this day she will overdose on morphine. She is in the Santa Barbara Motel and Richard finds her. At first she is annoyed by his presence but her love for him makes her satisfied deep down. He tells her that he is now a Priest but also a Drama teacher at a college in Los Angeles. It is 25 years later but he has always thought about her. She talks about Myron dying a few years ago and has a flashback of the two of them when they were younger. Myron back from the revolution to over through Franco. Kathleen was only 18 at the time but she was in love with this great author. Although Myron was her guy, her wife would never grant him a divorce, at least not until he was dying. Even with her love for Myron, Kathleen looked up Richard, called his home and spoke to his father. In the end, it is Richard who comforts her in her last day. He makes her feel like the women that Richard always thought she was.
Rideout put on one of the best performances that I have seen all year. Determined, aloof; yet funny and provacative. She is as sexy as the character she is supposed to play. Her command of the stage in this play is simply professional. We experience everything she is going through, the ups and the downs. We admire her most and irreverence toward the world. She could care less what people think.
The costumes by Martha Bromelmeier are well done, from Kathleens nightgown, to her stylish cloths. Jay Russell’s many outfits are right on the mark. It captures a personality that we expect from all his many roles.
The lighting in the death scene was superb. Allison Hohman did a fantastic job when Kathleen was haluscinating and revisited the many people who were once in her life, even her beloved Martha’s Vineyard home. The different color lights flailing about matched with the stroebs was electrifying. In the end, the play brings you out then reels you back in. Just when you set as to where the play is going, it spins you in another direction. This is one play not miss.