The end. The beginning. The middle. Now. Four stages in the evolution of Sonja and Frank’s relationship, played out over seven years of life, love and marriage in Theatre Rattlebag’s production of Michael Ripley’s Letters To Saint Rita – running now at Red Sandcastle Theatre.
The play’s title inspired by St. Rita of Cascia, patron saint of difficult marriages and impossible cases, we follow Sonja (Nicole Maroon) and Frank (Stephen Jackson), starting at the end of their marriage, catching snippets of their time together until the present. It is an up-close, honest look at the highs and lows of a relationship, the lovely private moments, and the personal and mutual triumphs and heartbreaks.
Directed by Ripley, with a minimalist set and time-shifting storytelling, Letters To Saint Rita allows the audience to focus on the dynamic between Frank and Sonja – and we become flies on the wall, witnesses to the disintegration of their marriage. Starting from an already challenging place, we see them start to fall in love in Frank’s brother Brian’s abandonned office, where Brian and Sonja had been more than academic research and writing colleagues. And we later learn that Frank and Sonja’s first child is not Frank’s – when Brian left, he also left Sonja pregnant. Were Frank and Sonja doomed from the start?
Maroon is equal parts fierce and vulnerable, as Sonja – hopeful and dejected as a struggling writer who puts her dreams of being published on hold to be a mother. And Jackson’s Frank is a lovable bear of a stand-up guy, sweet if not somewhat clueless in his struggle to balance advancing his career with nuturing his marriage – and he gives great booty shake.
Letters To Saint Rita is an intimate, thoughtful two-hander of a journey through love, marriage and lost causes. It runs at Red Sandcastle Theatre until March 7. Go see this.