Delia Knight’s Disappearing Act centers around Alex, a Marine struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. As he encounters the realities of war, each time he returns on leave, he and his loved ones must try to cope with his changing demeanor.
For InnerMission Productions, director Kym Pappas had done a stupendous job staging this play in thoughtful and compelling ways. From the moment the audience enters the theater, the actors are dotted around the space — some standing, others sitting. The only character onstage is Steve Froehlich, who plays Alex, writing on a legal pad. As the play begins, he places what he has been writing into an envelope. He then moves to a bench center stage, placing the envelope below where he sits.
This is something to take note of, because it will become significant in the end.
The other actors enter the stage space one at a time, each taking a stool on the periphery around Alex. They are like ghosts, floating in to tell their story about him. All the actors do a phenomenal job of portraying characters that are completely believable. As a result, the audience worries for them. That is what truly stellar acting can do: envelope us into a story so that we become emotionally invested.
Speaking of emotions, one of the remarkable things Pappas and her actors do is create, in the very small performance space, a sense that emotions are constantly alive and surrounding the audience. For example, when Alex and his sister (played exquisitely by Jamie Channell Guzman) have a charged moment on the bench center stage, their mother is emotionally responding to something else that will come out in the following scene.
Indeed, when checked on during moments when they are not the main focus, all the actors are alive and invested in their personal arc. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.
Froehlich is a dynamic Alex. His haunting, still, forward gaze couples with periodic bursts of explosive anger that are spot-on captivating. If the show must center around one character, thank goodness it is being played by an adept actor like Froehlich.
Kaly McKenna is electric as Alex’s mother, Vivian. She embodies both the enthusiasm and tenderness of a supportive mother while also achieving emotional highs and lows.
Salvador Velasco and Robert Malave play Alex’s Marine buddies Buck and Kick, respectively, and with Froehlich they do a spectacular job communicating the brotherhood of service while also showing the nuances of military life. Their stories are moving and powerful.
Doyle Dorado plays Alex’s love interest, Emma. Despite her natural accent periodically sneaking out, her performance is heart-wrenching. This is InnerMission's first full-season line-up. We should all look forward to seeing what this burgeoning company will offer as it develops and grows. Disappearing Act is not to be missed!