Eternal Life Part 1 at The Wilma Theater

            When you see the silly poster outside the show that is currently running at the Wilma Theater, it is easy to think that this new play by Nathan Alan Davis is little more than fluff. Nothing could be farther from the truth. “Eternal Life Part 1” has many funny moments, but it is so much than that. It is a profound story, centering on a family, but dealing with many of the existential questions of life.

            The play begins simply. An affluent couple are debating whether or not to keep the new home they’ve just bought and whether to settle there or in one of their other homes.  We see the conflict between the perfectionist husband and the wife who wants to be more rooted, lest she be forgotten. She says she wants to be immortal. It is the beginning of a discussion on what the point of life is and of one’s destiny.

            If it sounds too intellectual, it’s not- it’s very real… except when the other major character is present, which is most of the time. That character is a goose! Yes, a goose who wanders about, first watching the action, but then, interacting with the people. She was there when the couple arrived and remains through the years. First, wandering about the yard, then taken in as a pet, she becomes part of the family. Sarah Gliko brilliantly portrays this feathered bird as it moves about the scenes and into the audience. She is mesmerizing.

            The nameless couple (played by Jenn Kidwell and Steven Rishard) agrees early on to have a child. We observe them at different stages as the difficult child (Brandon J. Pierce) becomes an obnoxious adolescent, then a more mature college student. Whiny as he is, the scenes are very funny but realistically honest. The goose is observing with us.

            Then they are the snowflakes- the father snowflake, the mother snowflake, and the child snowflake. They represent the family. Or are they the family? Sounds confusing? It’s actually very simple, very basic and we can decide for ourselves.  The snowflake can land anywhere… or can it.  It has so its own destiny, a metaphor for what can happen to any of the characters, to any of us.  

            Feelings, yearnings, fears, love, frustration- they are all packed  into this most non-linear, almost surrealistic play. I will not begin to say I understood all that was going on, what with the goose and the snowflakes, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I was watching, and didn’t care. It worked in a way I’ve not experienced before in the theater. Oh yes, the cast was outstanding and the direction by Morgan Green was superb! It’s a chance to go to the theater and let go.

“Eternal Life Part 1” by Nathan Alan Davis at The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-546-7824  www.wilmatheater.org   thru April 30, 2023

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