A Seemingly Happy Family

A Seemingly Happy Family

Posted by: Taysha Day at 10/14/2013 05:00 PM

“Smokefall” is a heartfelt play surrounding the life of a dysfunctional family in Grand Rapids, Mich. They had a conflict that was not easy to resolve. It showed how Daniel, the father, could not take living in reality with his family and wanted to escape. This caused misery for his family that he left behind.

The stage and props that moved throughout the play really caught my attention. Apples came streaming from the ceiling and the house shook like an earthquake. It was surprising at first and it seemed realistic. This play really brought the audience along with all the special effects incorporated into it.

The family is shown like a seemingly happy family in the beginning. The wife Violet, played by Katherine Keberlein, is pregnant with twins, her daughter named Beauty is played by Catherine Combs, the father known as Daniel is played by Eric Slater, and the grandfather is the colonel played by Mike Nussbaum. It was easy to detect the unusual atmosphere between the family by the way they interacted with each other. They didn’t seem to be connected with each other and were ignoring the problem at hand. The father was not happy with the life he was living and abandoned them when he left for work. The wife continued to have a “happy” attitude, even though she knew in her heart that he wasn’t coming back. Their daughter Beauty was mute due to her not having anything to say anymore. The audience is able to go back in time when the mother and father met, to the present, and the future showing further struggles in the next generations.

The setting was a depiction of the 1950’s with how the characters were dressed and the appearance of their house. The main plot of the play took place in a slanted house most likely showing the family’s dysfunction. It also showed the twin boys sitting on a couch in darkness with the floor beneath them open. It was interesting to see from a different perspective of the twin boys before they were born. Although it was unusual to think that infants could have a conversation with each other and wear clothes. This scene, in particular, was amusing. The twins were seen to already have a view of the world. Although infants are supposed to be innocent, the twins were already corrupted by the world, which is showed in their crude language.

Violet was able to deliver her role of a “happy” wife. Even though, in reality, she was miserable like her husband. The effect of their marriage was obviously affecting their daughter Beauty, which most likely caused her to keep quiet for so many years. Her character was quite unusual and it was difficult to tell why she behaved the way she did. She stayed very independent, while having an appetite of paint and dirt. Her parents didn’t seem to make a big deal out of it and continued to ignore it as if nothing was wrong. This showed that they weren’t good at communicating, which is one of the reasons why they are dysfunctional.

The stage was the house, which was relevant in describing the troubles the family experienced. The sound design and moving props helped to piece the plot together. The concept of the play being in the past, present, and future did get somewhat confusing due to the fast transitions. Since this was a small cast, the audience had to keep up with the actors changing characters. With a bigger cast might have helped to solve the confusion, but overall, the message of the play stood out the most.

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