Force of Nature On Stage At The Ice House

May 1, 2013 | 2013 Articles

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon at the end of this article.

Steven Dietz’ Force of Nature dramatizes how our best laid plans often go awry and emphasizes the sameness of the power of life forces regardless of the era. From the present to the 1800s and back, Force of Nature describes the struggles of human nature against forbidden desires.

Director Elicia Russell loves the play for its many layers of deep meaning. “The story has changed my mind many times. I originally thought of it as a love story, but it’s more than a love story. It is life and how your choices affect your future and your past. You can affect your life or be affected by it. The choice is yours.”

Edward (Thom Crowe) and Charlotte (Jennifer Toledo) are the perfect couple at the heart of the story. Toledo describes Charlotte as wanting to control the situation for everyone. “Charlotte does everything with good intentions, but she doesn’t see that her choices may not be correct.”

Left to right: Captain (Chris Shepard), Charlotte (Jennifer Toledo) and Edward (Thom Crowe)

Crowe believes that Edward is a likable character, but that by the end of the play most of the audience will hate him. “He makes decisions based on what he wants regardless of how it affects others. He sees what he wants as best for everyone whether it is or not.” Given these character descriptions, one might anticipate a collision course!

When Edward invites his oldest and best friend Captain (Chris Shepard) to live with them, Charlotte’s perfect world is shattered. With revenge as her goal, she invites Ottilie (Michelle Stevens), the daughter of a dear friend, to live with them as well. The proper life each of the four has constructed is threatened. As Shepard noted,” When you place people in this type of situation, the forces of nature will cause relationships to change.”

Adding to the complexity of emotional relationships are a young love interest and a couple of arranged marriages. Lucy (Brittany Jo Sleeper) and Nick (Aaron Johnson) are in love in the present day, but in the transition to the 1800s, their relationship changes. According to Sleeper, “Lucianne is a young girl who doesn’t know what it means to be in love, but she wants to be. She wants someone to have their heart broken for her.” Johnson sees the purpose of Lucianne and Nicholas as “showing that sometimes individuals are destined to be together, but you may have to wait until the next life to come to that realization.”

The pre-arranged marriages of the Count (Jack Patino) and the Baroness (Debra Hansen) are loveless, leaving the Count and the Baroness open to love outside their honored unions. Hansen believes that the Count and the Baroness represent going for the gusto. “They are flaunting society’s norms and willing to give up a lot to be together. To which do you owe the greater allegiance, duty or love?”

Above it all and angry with the Count is the Baroness is Mittler (Auggie Hernandez), the observer, the photographer. Hernandez points out that Mittler “is the advice giver who has never been in a relationship! No marriage has ended in divorce on his watch.”

The universality of Force of Nature is emphasized by the remarks of cast members about the shows’ message. Typical is Johnson’s summation: “It is a love story that attacks the issue of being in a marriage and finding a soul mate outside of that marriage. What do you do when that happens?”

Force of Nature
opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3, 2013 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 5/3, 5/4, 5/10, 5/11, 5/17, and 5/18 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 5/5, 5/12, and 5/19.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Print this page and take it to the show to get discount:
Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon
Force of Nature
By Steven Deitz
Admit 2 Adults for $14.00
Coupon good for any performance of the play.
One Coupon Per Family
Reservations Suggested – 559-734-3900

Check out more local theatre reviews this week right here in KRL & even more theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now President of the Board and responsible for Box Office/Hosting volunteers.


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