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“Mrs. Packard”

A Review

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“Mrs. Packard”

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The play, Mrs. Packard, portrays the story of the woman, Mrs. Packard, who is admitted into an insane asylum in the 1800s when treatments for mental health consisted mostly of caging people, in some cases even chaining them in place, away from all light. They were often crowded together and in very unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

Onto the play itself. The first scene began with a mediocre performance from what I considered to be a key character of the play, Mr. Packard, played by Andrew McNeil. I just thought the character was too bland. There was little emotion to the character but I felt great potential from Andrew that was untapped in his performance which continued to hold true for the rest of the play.

I was pleasantly surprised by the next two characters we meet in the play, Mrs. Packard and Doctor McFarland, played by Vilma Ledferd and Matthew Lee. Vilma and Matthew were the definitive stars of the show. Their undeniable chemistry really proved the validity of their characters. Vilma showed raw emotion and utilized an actor’s strongest tool, their voice, so well that I was genuinely invested in her character and her story. Matthew was arguably the best actor on stage at all times. His body language and control of his voice emotion tied the character together so well I was taken back by his performance. I loved seeing Matthew’s body language, including his eyebrows which might be an odd compliment, but it is a subtle facial expression used to add much to a character’s performance. Matthew used his eyebrows a lot. Mostly, I commend his use of the subtle gestures with them, but at certain points I felt like he was using them too much and there were a few times they mismatched the mood of the scene. Matthew ultimately gave a stellar performance alone and with Vilma. Something I wish I had seen better developed in the play was the doctor-patient love relationship between Mrs. Packard, and Doctor McFarland, and maybe an inner-monologue from the Doctor to give a greater insight to his character and motivations.

The other psych patients who roomed with Mrs. Packard, Mrs Chapman and Mrs. Stockton, played by Lily Garcia and Sage Day, did well enough. I thought Lily was a hidden gem of the show. She and Caroline Lee, who played Mrs. Tenney, did a great job playing their smaller roles.

Sage Day could’ve done a much greater job with her character. I was not at all convinced that she was an elderly woman by her acting and emotion. I think that Eli Wooten who played a board leader for the hospital gave a solid performance, but he was too preoccupied by what was happening on stage so I saw only his side too often. Hannah Grisham delivered a similar role to what she normally does, the insane lady with the insane laughter. It’s nothing bad, though. She always does a wonderful job with those roles, especially this one, I thought. She was very genuine when she interacted with other characters. She was very forceful and touchy as I felt her character should be. Another nice addition was her Scottish/Irish accent she put on. It added a lot nice novelty and dimension to her character.

Speaking of accents, Kyle Whitson, who played Dr. Duncanson, gave a wonderful monologue with a strong British accent which never faltered. There was such confidence in his voice which delivered a resounding monologue that I applaud. The few other monologues scattered around the play were delivered very well, too, but only Dr. Duncanson and Dr. Knot, played by LaDarius White, really stuck out for their quality.

The judge escorting the speakers, played by Matthew Homan, had a small role that appeared a number of times through the play to a quality job. He made us role memorable.

A sore moment that really stuck out in the play which I’m sure most of the actors wish they could forget was when Courtney Johnson, who played Mrs. Sybil Dole and an insane woman in the psych ward, put her arms straight up in the air like she just didn’t care, and it seemed like she didn’t because when it got big laughs from the crowd she continued to do it and got other characters to do the same. All the while, there was a serious scene going on of dialogue between Matthew and Vilma which Courtney completely derailed the tone of and no one could hear the dialogue over the laughter in the crowd.

A special recognition should go to Mary Edwards for directing this wonderful experience and Brennen Wynn for being assistant director. The black box was a great place to watch the play as its more personable. In general, I thought the the directing was spot on. I loved the positioning and the props and the extras on stage. I could tell that everything was very well learned and instructed, so great job to the directors.

Overall, I really loved Mrs. Packard. The crew worked really hard on the play and I really enjoyed that it was a historically-accurate play and they gave us details of what happened to the characters after the play, even if it was a bit of a morbid fate for some. There were some amazing people in the production and execution of this play that should be proud. I would definitely revisit this play if they showed it again.

2 Comments

2 Responses to ““Mrs. Packard””

  1. Jenny on May 1st, 2018 10:31 am

    I could watch this production and never get tired of it. Although i didnt get to see it from the audience POV, due to being part of the chorus, Each actor had such an amazing way of presenting their character. Over all i would have definitely recommended watching Mrs, Packard.

  2. Paula on May 1st, 2018 10:33 am

    The play sounds really good! I wish I could have attended it.

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“Mrs. Packard”