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Breadcrumbs
by Jennifer Haley
Directed by Sarah Lynne Holt
R-S Theatrics
October 9, 2021

Julie Amuedo, Jodi Stockton
Photo by Mike Young
R-S Theatrics

Stories are powerful. They can be personal, shared between friends and family, told to the wider world, or passed down from generation to generation. The newest production from R-S Theatrics, Breadcrumbs, explores all those aspects of storytelling along with a fascinating unfolding tale of a developing relationship, along with memories of a formative one. It’s also a showcase for two first-rate performances, and some especially inventive staging that helps to tell the story with utmost clarity. 

Breadcrumbs, directed by R-S Theatrics’ new artistic director, Sarah Lynne Holt, is two stories told in parallel, with elements of iconic fairy tales woven in. It’s essentially the story of a writer, Alida (Jodi Stockton), who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and her relationships with two important figures in her life, past and present. Both of these important characters are played by the same person, as their similarities become keys to discovery. In the present day story, Alida meets Beth (Julie Amuedo), a nurse’s aide, at a clinic where she is being evaluated in a effort to make a diagnosis. In this meeting, Beth and Alida both tell their stories in essentially a fairy-tale form, and as their relationship develops and we learn more about both of these characters, the parallel story plays out, as Alida remembers her childhood and her mother(also Amuedo), who would move the two of them around a lot in pursuit of the mother’s various boyfriends, finally settling into a situation that leads to even more mystery. In the present, Beth’s story parallels that of Alida’s mother, and as Beth makes herself more indispensable in Alida’s life, the exploration of Alida’s childhood mystery grows; and as both women in the present day learn to navigate their own issues of trust and dependency, an initially tentative bond between them develops.

The play’s structure is clever, but it can also be tricky, in that it could easily become confusing as the two parallel tales–linked by Alida–are told in a way that the past and present accounts often switch back and forth abruptly. The staging, however, is especially clever in making the distinctions clear, with effective lighting by Karen Pierce that not only sets the mood and fairy tale-like atmosphere especially well, but also changes to distinctly different hues to distinguish the different timelines. The staging is also expertly paced, heightening the tension as Alida’s memory difficulties increase, and as the her trust in Beth is repeatedly called into question. The performances also aid in the clarity, as both performers excel in portraying this mysteriously unfolding story, with Stockton’s manner changing between older adult and little girl effectively, and Amuedo’s changes between the two similar but also very different characters also made strikingly apparent. Both performers are excellent, and their relationships are poignant and remarkably believable. lending much to the overall poignancy of the story. Director Holt’s set also lends an air of simultaneous elusiveness and realism to the proceedings, which also feature fine costumes from Amanda Brasher and sound by Ted Drury.

Breadcrumbs is a fascinating story, from beginning to end, and its use of parallels in the structure as well as the story is impressive. At R-S Theatrics, the story resonates with poignancy and truth, and although it uses the theme of fairy tales, there are issues dealt with here that are for mature audiences (featuring issues like domestic abuse and neglect as well as health issues cognitive decline). As staged by an excellent cast and creative team, this is a tale well told. 

 

Julie Amuedo, Jodi Stockton
Photo by Mike Young
R-S Theatrics

R-S Theatrics is presenting Breadcrumbs at the .Zack Theatre until October 24, 2021

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