I ran into longtime theater critic Roy Proctor, director of "Visiting Mr. Green" a few nights before the opening of the show. "Give me an honest review, Mary," he insisted, "I can take it." I laughed and assured him I was planning to, regardless of his asking. So here it is: Despite one or two small, forgivable mistakes, the show is one to make the time to see.
It has well-cast, highly talented actors (John Hagadorn as Mr. Green and John Kenneth DeBoer as Ross), a thought-provoking script (excellent choice for the Acts of Faith Festival by artistic director John Knapp) and all-around good production values.
Mr. Green is a cantankerous octogenarian living alone in an Upper West Side prewar apartment. His fate crosses with Ross Gardener, a career-driven 29-year-old Jewish gay man who just misses hitting Mr. Green with his car. The play opens with Ross' first court-ordered visit to Mr. Green and progresses with his attempts to connect with Mr. Green and the personal growth that ensues. An exploration of religion and the effect it has on human connection is evident as the relationship between the two characters evolves. Mr. Green is an old dog who learns a new trick. Ross is his trainer.
Hagadorn and DeBoer, believable and comfortable in their roles, unapologetically take the audience on Mr. Green's journey from rock to marshmallow. Especially beautiful is Mr. Green's story of meeting his late wife, as well as the pinnacle of the play when Ross describes a humiliating family event. Proctor gives a good "third eye" to the performance, keeping the blocking and action clean and real.
"Visiting Mr. Green" is matzo ball soup for the soul. As well-prepared as your bubbee's homemade dish and served with a little self-actualized wisdom. S
The Richmond Triangle Players' "Visiting Mr. Green" plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through March 1, with select Thursday performances and Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. Fieldens Cabaret Theatre, 2033 W. Broad St. Tickets are $16-$22. Acts of Faith discussion following performances on Feb. 14 and Feb. 22. Call 346-8113 or www.rtriangle.org or www.theactsoffaith.com.