You know you’re thoroughly engrossed in a play when the house lights come up and you realize that an hour and a half has flown by. That’s what happens with Basil Keimendahl’s Orange Julius, which makes its world premiere at Moxie Theatre.
The show is about family, specifically Nut (Rae K. Hendersen) and her father, Julius (Jeffrey Jones), a Vietnam vet who was poisoned by the deadly Agent Orange. Nut, who identifies herself as a man, has come back home to help her mother (Dana Case) and sister (Wendy Maples), care for the now cancer-stricken Julius.
Really though, she wants to reconnect with her father, but as a male. Nut dresses like a man, has a close-cropped haircut and has mannerisms that can be considered male-like. Nut spends the show going back in forth in time with Julius; Vietnam (alongside fellow soldier, Ol’ Boy, played by Steve Froehlich), childhood moments spent alone with Julius and their present-day. One scene flows into another and director Will Davis masterfully handles these jumps in time.
One thing that Keimendahl does in regards to Nut’s sexuality is that it’s just there and it’s no big deal. There’s no scene where someone in her family is upset, tries to change her or shuns her for the way she is. She just is who she is. Talk about refreshing.
The cast, led by both Hendersen and Jones, is outstanding. Hendersen, who never leaves the stage during the show, commands attention. She’s the narrator of the piece and you can’t help but follow her every move and drink up every word that comes out of her mouth. Each sentence, each word is full of meaning and subtext. Jones’ Julius is a man worn down by experiences; he speaks with a gravelly voice and his body language and mannerisms are short and sweet, benefitting a man who’s got little to say but a lot to give. Think of the work these two did for this show. They leave everything on the stage and both are just terrific.
And wait till you see the low-tech but wonderfully effective feathers flowing down onto the stage.
I would think under a less-skilled director, this show could be heavy-handed and full of drama with a capital ‘D.’ But Davis gives this such a nice touch that’s at times funny, sweet and sad that this show worth your time.
‘Orange Julius’ by Basil Kreimendahl runs September 24 – October 18, 2015 at Moxie Theatre
Thur @ 7pm, Fri & Sat @8pm & Sun @2pm. For Tickets: Call 858-598-7620 or purchase online