Published January 22, 2018 | By: Adrienne Proctor
The scene before us is a familiar one; two friends sharing a drink on a front porch in August, somewhere in the south. They’re waiting out the heat of the day and anticipating an upcoming lunar eclipse. The two reminisce over bourbon, and under the broken ceiling fan, which oscillates intermittently in the breeze. But this is no ordinary front porch. This is Sam Shepard’s Ages of the Moon, presented by Carpenter Square Theatre.
Rob May is Ames and Michael Kramer portrays his long-lost friend Byron, summoned by Ames for an over-due visit. Together the men recall their 44-year friendship, both the good and the bad times they’ve shared. Complex is this friendship, yet simple too. The best ones always are, and this show is a celebration of that delicate dynamic.
The two actors in this play complement each other well. They’re both on stage for the entire show, however, they each have individual moments to shine. While May is gruff and harsh, Kramer is reassuring. When May turns loud and aggressive, Kramer dips into a soothing drawl. There are moments when the dialogue lulls to a sleepy crawl, much like the analogies of the droning fan or the slowly approaching eclipse. Despite that, the actors keep the audience engaged with their lively chemistry. This is a blissful friendship to witness, whether they’re clinking their glasses to years gone by, or physically tussling and scrambling on that ever-present porch.
There are moments when May carries the show alone. He’s a powerful vision on the stage and he seems comfortable both in his character and in his spotlight. Kramer does well to contend with May. Kramer is somewhat stiff in the beginning, but he warms up quickly. He finally gets his own time to shine, very near to the end of the show. This turning point in his performance is worth the wait.
Terry Veal directs, and he has used the set to further the tale. The physical objects in the show become not just background devices, but characters in their own right. The methodical way the actors circle each other, not just in movement but also in conversation, creates powerful imagery that reminds the audience why we’re here- to see this relationship change.
The evolvement of that relationship is not only a touching surprise, but also extremely subtle at first. Tiny cracks can be seen in the expectations they have set for each other, until finally new revelations are made. Suddenly their roles in each other’s lives are changed forever. May and Kramer carry this knowledge with them throughout the show and release it with a cathartic mix of emotion and humor. It’s a long build-up, but a worthwhile pay off.
From a surface perspective, this play is a simple little tale- two friends, sharing a drink and a laugh. But mere minutes into the show, it proves itself to be much deeper. The two performers portray a bond that anyone who’s ever had a best friend can relate to. Some things are left unsaid, while others need to be brought out into the open. Kramer and May are convincing in their roles. It’s easy to believe they’ve known each other their whole lives.
This delightful play is fun, warm and moving. It’ll leave you longing to call your old friends. It will kindly remind you that while our time on earth may sometimes seem long, it’s also terribly quick, soon to be eclipsed, and ever changing like the moon.