On paper, award-winning American playwright, Cindy Lou Johnson's play Brilliant Traces is a masterpiece - in the hands of Joh Hartog Productions, the result is one heck of a theatre production not to be missed.
I'll try not to go too deep with this review but it's hard not to! Brilliant Traces is a one-act play, running for 80 minutes, with a cast of 2 and to be honest, that's all it needs. Brendan Cooney is the reclusive Henrey Harry - Henrey works on an oil rig and prefers to spend his off-time in pure isolation, in his humble log cabin, located in the Alaskan wilderness.
During one of Alaska's notorious white-outs, Henrey's world is blown apart with the sudden, unannounced and given the weather conditions, somewhat miraculous arrival of runaway bride Rosannah DeLuce (Krystal Brock). This moment is art in itself, as Rosannah launches into a ranting monologue (helping herself to more than a few decent slogs of Henrey's Canadian spirit) while Henrey stands silent, watchful, wary and covered from head to toe in his comforter.
The set (designed by Joh Hartog) is pure brilliance, authentically constructed and detailed to reflect the interior and exterior of an Alaskan log cabin, complete with snow-fall and an Alaskan stove which appears to be fully functioning, with what appears to be glowing hot coals and a steady stream of chimney smoke! Stephen Dean's lighting and sound design further enhance this production - as fierce gusts of wind prevail, yet are perfectly balanced, in harmony with the performance.
I normally don't like to draw comparisons but Brendan Cooney really stands out as a consummate performer, putting his heart and soul into embodying his character (as does Krystal Brock). Brendan's artfully balanced combination of physicality and verbal dialogue brings Henrey Harry to real life. I can't help drawing comparisons between Brendan and the late, great Robin Williams (with beard) - they both possess that natural talent for displaying strength in sensitivity and vulnerability, with many moments of brilliantly timed humour.
Pictured is Director Joh Hartog (centre) on set with (from left) Stage Manager, Lauren Taylor and cast: Krystal Brock & Brendan Cooney (image by Michael Errey)
Rosannah may seem a bit far fetched but this is where I'll be brutally honest and say she is not! In the sense of someone in a genuine dissociative state who struggles to chronicle time and reason, Rosannah is a true runaway bride in every sense, struggling with life's realities.
Henrey himself has more than one good reason for his reclusive lifestyle, recounting his own horrific mental scars, resulting from the sudden and accidental death of his only and much-beloved daughter. As an audience member, I felt privileged to bear witness to the heart and soul of these characters through the brilliant performances of Krystal Brock and Brendan Cooney.
The Bakehouse Theatre is the perfect venue for this incredible gem of a production. So, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to one of the remaining performances of Joh Hartog Productions season of Brilliant Traces which runs until Saturday, 5 October 2019. Book online here - remaining performances will run at 8pm on Wednesday-Saturday (2 October-5 October 2019).