By Gretchen C. Van Benthuysen
There is a lot more growing in the orchards surrounding the Fogerty farm in rural Wyoming than just fruit in E.M. Lewis’ new play “Apple Season,” making its debut at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.
Siblings Lissie and Roger have returned home – after they mysteriously disappeared 20 years earlier – to attend their father’s funeral. But they haven’t come to mourn him. More likely, they’ve returned to make sure he is really dead.
As the 90-minute play unfolds we learn that, as children, Lissie (Kersti Bryan) and Roger (Richard Kent Green) were terrorized by their father who had a habit of shooting a .22 caliber rifle in all directions when drunk. Which was often.
Their mother, who only spoke in a whisper, died when they were young. You get the idea she was terrorized by him as well.
Roger, who was so damaged by his father that he flees town before the funeral. He was 16 when he left the first time. At 16 he could drive. He could get a job and support his little sister. At least, that was the plan.
The play opens with Lissie, who inherited the farm (the siblings pretended Roger was dead) picking and sorting apples more by rote than desire. What she really wants to do, we learn later, is to burn down her childhood home because bad things happened inside as well.
When childhood friend and neighbor Billy (Christopher M. Smith) stops by, she just may have found an arson accomplice. And, since neither married and he wants to buy the farm, maybe she found more than she bargained for.
All three actors handle their roles perfectly under the deft direction of Zoya Kachadurian. We learn about their characters’ past through flashbacks to their childhood aided by projections on to the side of the shed surrounded by apple trees on the set designed by Jessica Parks and enhanced by the lighting designed by Jill Nagle. Costumes were designed by Patricia E. Doherty.
Performances 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 10. Tickets $52. For more information, all 732-229-3166 or visit njrep.org.
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