Renegade Theatre's 'Conserving Melissa' edgy
Renegade Theatre Experiment opened the curtain last week to Tom Jacobson's latest play titled, "Conserving Melissa," a pleasant enough distraction built upon comedic suspense, a probable plot, and talented performances. Renegade reaches out to the new, the different, the classic and challenging, all with a professional edge. "Conserving Melissa" is brand new territory and these Renegades embraced the opportunity with energy.
The playwright has been in collaboration with director Megan Murphy and cast to offer the world premiere of the PG-13 (for language) production. While the show offers a freshness, one is left with the feeling that it's not quite complete. That may be, in part, due to the light character development and having conversations start but end too quickly. While the show has intelligent twists and turns, it could use some more flesh. The show has a bright tempo and never lagged.
The story is somewhat based on the experiences of a real eastern museum conservator, with fiction liberally sprinkled throughout. Cherise (Blythe Thomas) has received the busted bones of an unnamed Egyptian woman from her boyfriend, Gunnar (Axel Parker). In such a broken condition, the museum will not accept the mummy for display, so Cherise sets out to bring life and character back from the dead while working in her bedroom. Uneasy sleeping in the same room not knowing the name of the deceased damsel, Cherise names the bones Melissa.
The more effort she puts toward conserving Melissa, the more obsessed she becomes to reconstruct Melissa. Old friend and museum curator Lewis (Christian Thomas) and new friend Melissa (Maria Piccininni) share in the concern about Melissa (the bones) and lend a hand in clarifying the reality of passion from obsession.
Blythe Thomas proved believable as the passionate conservator who loses control. Parker, as her boyfriend, was affable and amiable in his pursuit of her continued affections. Christian Thomas was pleasantly agreeable as the museum curator, and Piccininni was a treat. Her entrance in the second act perked things up instantly.
"Conserving Melissa" is playing at the Renegade Theatre Experiment through Aug. 14. Its stage is located at Benson Theatre, Bellarmine College Preparatory, 895 Emory St., San Jose. For more information, call 493-0783.
Fred Crow is a local music director
and frequent attendee of
the arts. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org .