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Flora Lynn Isaacson

The Packrat Gene

Ross Valley Players Presentation
“The Packrat Gene”
March 27, 2022
(Pandemic Relief)

Masks notwithstanding among the audience, theater seats were full, and there was plenty of laughter to be shared in this production as written by Margy Kahn, Playwright, directed by Michael R. Cohen, and produced by the Ross Alternative Works Committee.

Cast members were in their element and provided non-stop comedic interest combined with reflections about the past and trauma about the present, keeping the audience riveted. They included Marcia van Broek (Esther, the Grand Mother), Maya Rath (Leigh), Esther’s daughter and Rachel’s Mother, and Julie Ann Sarabia (Rachel, the daughter of Leigh and Granddaughter of Esther). Understudies were Helen Kim and Pear Michaels.

The story line follows their 2019 shared experience of helping Esther (a Holocaust survivor) move from her cluttered New Jersey garden apartment into an elder residence. Mother and daughter are trying to go through possessions without too much disagreement. Given the clutter, the set was charming, and the French music added lightness to the traumatic atmosphere.

There is conflict, inasmuch as Esther must move within five months and does not want to go through the trouble. Leigh is staying a few days and trying to make it easier for her mother to move by reducing the clutter, but Esther cannot stop reflecting on the past, her husband, and her possessions. Rachel is trying to make the situation easier for all of them.

The costumes were excellent, as designed by Michael A. Berg.

The apartment setting, though cluttered, was charming, as designed by Michael R. Cohen with Stage Management by Lyra Smith and Assistant Stage Manager Pear Michaels.

The lighting was very good (as designed by Tina Johnson). While the lighting was very good, the Sound Board operation (sound designed by Stephen Dietz and operated by Lyra Smith) was too low.

Graphic Design was created by Mark Shepard; Publicity by Karen Topakian; Photography by Robin Jackson; and the Program Consultant was Susie Hughes. Volunteer Coordinator was Eleanor Prugh, and Webmaster was Andrew Wilson.

Performances of The Packrat Gene continue through April 3, 2022, at The Barn, Ross Valley Players, located on the grounds of the Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross CA 94957.

Telephone for tickets:  415/456-9555, Ext. 1

Critique by
Flora Lynn Isaacson, SFBA Critic
Elle Alexa Simon, Student of Ms. Isaacson