If you’re a fan of literature and relationships, “At A Distance” is the show for you.
“At A Distance” is a show written and directed by Texas Wesleyan’s Connie Whitt-Lambert. The show featured senior theater major Brian Johnson as The Man and junior theater major Kirsten Wagner as The Woman. https://www.facebook.com/TheatreWesleyan/posts/10158868159316907 (Theater Wesleyan’s post with show pictures)
Before we get into the show content, one interesting piece of the show is that it was outdoors. The set and seating were located in the Kay Granger Mall outside of the Martin Center. The audience maintained their safety by wearing face masks and staying six-feet apart, with flags marking the different spots for parties to sit.
I thought it was a refreshing change to be seated out on the grass underneath the stars. Attendees had the option of bringing their own blankets or lawn chairs if they wanted. I thought it was one of the most relaxing theater shows I’d attended at Wesleyan and probably the most natural event I’ve been to since COVID-19 started.
The grass seating also made the audience feel like they were in the show a bit more than the regular theater stage would have since the show’s main setting was in The Woman’s garden.
The actual show content explored the themes of solitude and companionship. The two main characters are a woman living alone and a sickly male traveler, both living in their own world. A chance meeting over a book in the woman’s garden leads to a spark of companionship through their shared love of scholarly literature.
The solitude and companionship themes felt relevant to the times since people have been dealing with their own challenges with the two due to COVID-19 regulations. I know I connected to the solitude lifestyle and finding companionship in unusual times.
The show continues to develop their relationship as the man continues to visit the woman. With each meeting, they play a guessing game with different literary passages where the man is ultimately trying to get the women to leave her home and share some lemonade with him out in the garden.
The show is pretty playful and has humor sprinkled in, but the overall ending is tragic and predictable. To be honest, I guessed the ending fairly early in the show, but it was still worth watching to see how far the relationship would develop and to play along to see if you recognized the passages the characters referenced.
The easiest to recognize is William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but there are also references from authors like Sophocles, Aristophanes, Moliere, Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nathaniel Hawthorn, and Walt Whitman in the show. You don’t have to know the literature they’re referencing, but it adds to the experience if you do.
The overall message I got from the show was don’t take people for granted because you never know how long you’ll have them in your life, and act on opportunities before they pass you up.
Overall, I would recommend the show, but it only had three performances from Oct. 2 to 4. So instead, I’ll recommend going to check out Theater Wesleyan’s “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” since it’s a drive-in performance, another varied style of show, compared to the regular theater season. The show opens on Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the administration parking lot.