Life is ‘Still’ With ‘Iris’

Steven Dietz’s ‘Still Life With Iris,’ a magical play set in a fantasy land filled with illusions, was showcased this past week in the Humanities Hall Little Theater. In an ‘Alice in Wonderland’-like fashion, ‘Still Life’ narrates the story of Iris, a young girl in search of her home after being stripped of her memories.
Directed by Erin McBride Africa, the play is equally entertaining for both children and adults. It is apparent through the performances, scenic design and music that the cast and crew got in touch with their inner child when putting together the production. They took a script meant to be simple enough for children and use physical comedy to entertain an older audience.
Garret Mendez plays the Flower Painter and Ray and is able to perfectly differentiate the two characters from each other. As Ray, he roams the stage in a strange, flamboyant and conniving fashion. As the Flower Painter, he walks calmly and speaks with the warmth of a father.
Taylor Jackson Ross’s initial character, the Bolt Bender, creates a balloon dog, which delighted the audience.
Natasha Harris, as the lead Iris, performs the most impressive trick of the night when she uses a drape to transform herself into a box. These stunts were all within the context of the story and were played completely in character. It made the show feel like a good kid’s birthday performance, simple but enthusiastic.
The show owes much to the clever script that Dietz provides, but the child-like nature of the show is what hinders it for most of the first act. Throughout the first act, the show feels like Sesame Street performed in front of a live studio audience. A lot of the acting seems exaggerated. Many of the relationships that Iris has in her village do not seem believable and make her memory loss less heartfelt.
Despite the show’s minor setbacks Julian Clark, Amanda Kramer and Benny Wills all put forth great performances on Darcy Prevost’s beautiful set that transforms the Little Theatre into an entire world.