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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: Aurora Theatre's "Luca Gale" Is a Total Knockout

Sep 11, 2017
by Renata Polt
Berkeley's Aurora Theatre opens its fall season with a bang--to be specific, with Rebecca Gilman's knockout play, "Luna Gale,"directed by Tom Ross.

The play couldn't be more timely. The New Yorker recently published an article about the mechanism that removes children from "unfit" parents and places them in foster care. Involved is drug addiction, child neglect, and also officials who sometimes overreach and make

devastatingly bad decisions. "Luna Gale" hits all of these targets with a set of characters that are all too sadly believable.

Karlie (Alix Cuadra) and Peter (Devin S. O'Brien) are the parents of baby Luna. They're young, they're in love, they're meth addicts. They love the baby, but when a social worker, Caroline (Jamie Jones) comes to inspect, she finds cockroaches and general filth, and Luna is taken away.

Caroline is a pivotal figure in the play. A seasoned professional, she has her own painful backstory, not to mention her much younger and unsympathetic boss, Cliff (Joshua Marx), who blames her for the mistakes of her predecessor.

The play's main issue is what will become of Luna. One candidate for caretaker is Karlie's mother, Cindy (Laura Jane Bailey), a born-again Christian who believes that "this world is a vapor." Neither Karlie nor Caroline have any sympathy for such views, nor for the ministrations of

Cindy's smarmy pastor, Pastor Jay (Kevin Kemp).

A final character, whose role is less well-defined, is Lourdes (Jennifer Vega), a young woman who has "aged out" of foster care and is now attending college. Or not.

The set (design by Kate Boyd) switches from Caroline's office, with a background of piles upon piles of file boxes (nice touch), to Cindy's home, to a few less specific spaces, and it all works, as do Callie Floor's costumes.

What bothered me was that at times I had trouble hearing the dialogue. The theater's in-the-round format of course makes it difficult for the actors to be understood in every corner of the space at every moment; maybe they just have to project more.

"Luna Gale" runs through October 1st at Aurora Theatre. For tickets and further information, phone (510) 843-4822, or visit auroratheatre.org.


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