SET thrives with an unconventional but moving story in A Late Snow 


A lot has changed since Jane Chambers wrote A Late Snow in 1974. But despite all the progress made by the LGBT community, this play about a woman and her same-sex lovers has not lost its impact. Relationships between any two people require hard work, trust and love, and that's why A Late Snow is just as relevant today as ever.

As a spring storm strands her characters, Chambers takes them back to different times, different places and different realities. Those old times, places and realities tend to be as harsh and cold as a late winter snowdrift.

Springs Ensemble Theatre's production is a sensitive love story, beautifully told by an all-female cast. Ellie (Virginia Henley Gatz) is middle-aged and in the closet, living with Quincy (Jessica Parnello), her current girlfriend. Pat (Jenny Maloney) is Ellie's former lover who has suddenly popped back into her life, and Peggy (Jessica Weaver) is her college roommate who denies having dabbled in sexual awakenings with Ellie. On a weekend business trip, Ellie meets Margo (Ellen Regina), and brings her home with her.

Ellie is audacious; few of us would choose to fill our homes with lovers from our past, present and future. She's a complex character, and Henley Gatz's performance is charming and nuanced. Henley Gatz shows us both the love in Ellie's soul, and the lie that is her flaw.

Maloney swaggers as Pat, relishing the hard-drinking, tough-talking role as Ellie's former lover, but she also cringes at the heartbreak of losing Ellie. Parnello is a devoted but naïve Quincy, prone to learning life lessons the hard way. Weaver couldn't be a more convincing Peggy; she's in a miserable sham marriage to a man she loathes. There is a moment in the second act where Ellie reaches out to Peggy and touches her hand. Weaver's reaction to Ellie's touch is beautifully executed revulsion. Peggy won't admit she's a lesbian, but the fear on her face betrays her. She knows the truth, and at that moment, so does the audience.

It is, however, Regina's performance as Margo that rings so remarkably true here. Regina is inscrutable; she hides Margo's secrets with a reclusive but mature delivery, and is at once reserved and worldly. Regina sparkles as the adult voice of reason in Ellie's self-inflicted chaos.

Margo asks Ellie the question we should all ask of ourselves: "What do you want?" Should she settle for convenience, or should she go after what she really desires? Whether she chooses to stay with Quincy, reconcile with Pat, or take an entirely different direction is a very tough call. She must choose, and any choice she makes will hurt someone. Most of us have faced a similar dilemma, and few of us would like to do it again.

There's not a false note from any of the cast here, which is a credit to Emory John Collinson's delicate direction. It takes a confident guy to direct five women in a show about lesbians, and clearly Collinson's confidence is well-justified.


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