The Lost Child
Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
The Skylight Theatre
Through September 3
In Jennifer W. Rowland’s The Lost Child, Addie Daddio plays Ann, a troubled woman whose daughter had been mysteriously abducted 7 years prior. In the process of divorce, she and her husband Daniel (Peter James Smith) meet to pack their belongings, as they intend to sell the house where they’d raised their child. They also plan to celebrate what would have been their daughter’s 18th birthday with a large chocolate cake. The prevailing mood is one of mutual compassion; there’s even a burst of renewed passion, until a series of strange noises heralds the re-appearance of their long-lost progeny, Angelica (Marilyn Fitoria).
Although it’s been 7 years, Angelica looks much the same as the night Ann was knocked to the floor by a person or persons unseen, and Angelica disappeared. This Angelica is chirpy and hyper and annoying; she acts as if there’s nothing unusual about her coming back into their lives looking much the same as when she left, and she responds to their puzzlement and dismay with attitude in spades. Daniel is all for calling the police, but Ann wants to believe this is her daughter and is prepared to overlook any unlikelihood or unpleasantness to have it so.
Daddio delivers a strong, deeply rooted portrayal of the troubled Ann, but her fine performance is subverted by the script, which develops around a wobbly premise that the playwright fails to support with convincing detail. Sure, plots involving sci-fi or the supernatural require greater audience indulgence than a naturalistic play, but even if you’re prepared to buy into the strange and the spooky, Rowland’s explanation for the strange goings-on is thin at best. It doesn’t help that Smith’s portrait of a disquieted Daniel is a bit too stagey, and while Fitoria has great physicality and presence, she’s saddled with an unbelievable character and reiterative dialogue.
Technically, the production, directed by Denise Blasor, is a good one: Background music by Juliette Blasor, in tandem with designer Christopher Moscatiello’s crackerjack sound, conjure a pronounced eeriness on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s appropriately dingy set, whose pendent cobwebs Daniel brushes aside in the play’s opening moment. James McLaughlin’s lighting adds to the aura of fitful suspense. Blasor stages the performers’ interactions adeptly; if only she had sounder material to work with.
The Skylight Theatre, 1816 ½ N. Vermont Ave., Hollywood; Fri., 8:30 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m.; through September 3; (213) 761-7061 or online at SkylightTix.com. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.