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Frozen may sounds like a dreary evening of theater: The three-character drama features a mother whose young daughter was raped and killed, the serial killer responsible and a psychiatrist studying serial killers. But Bryony Lavery's Tony Award-nominated play is a fascinating account of three people caught in a web of violation.

  The production is pure theater. There are no decorative details, just the words and acting. For much of the play, one or two characters sit silently while the others do a scene or deliver a monologue. The abstract staging removes the drama from naturalism, but the characters and their dialogue are convincingly real. Under Glenn Meche's skillful direction, the cast kept the audience spellbound

  Diana Shortes brought wry anguish to Nancy, the grieving mother. Nancy's other daughter, now grown, travels to India and takes to speaking in mystical cliches. She proclaims her mother will never be free until she forgives Ralph's horrible transgression. At first, Nancy finds the idea repugnant.

  The central question is whether Ralph (Keith Launey) can control his impulses. Or to put it another way, are his crimes a "sin" or a "symptom"? But control or no control, Ralph clings to a compulsive logic. He commits his murders in a dirt-floored shack where he also buries victims, and he brags that he never touches anything outside the center of his operations.

  The police catch Ralph by tracing the times and locations where he got his tattoos. After his incarceration, he becomes an object of study for Agnetha (Liz Mills), who is trying to understand what drives a mass murderer: childhood trauma, brain injury or other causes. Despite her scientific interest, she comes closest to having a real relationship with Ralph.

  A tip of the hat to everyone involved in this remarkable production. Hopefully Crescent Theatre Collective brings it back for a longer run. — Dalt Wonk


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