Be The First to See “Last Swallows”

“Last Swallows,” by the inimitable Cailin Maureen Harrison, is a moving, comedic gem, now playing at The Other Space @ The Actors Company in West Hollywood.  It tells the story of a highly dysfunctional New England family, truly the stuff that makes up good, compelling drama.  It revolves around the Whitestone family, coincidentally the name of the always traffic congested Whitestone Bridge, a Nor’easter necessity.  The patriarch of the family is Robert, (a dazzling Bob Telford), who is addicted to his binoculars, in search of birds (his utmost fave, the swallows); bees; and all accompanying wildlife that surrounds and enthralls him.  He is in denial of his failing health, while his grown children and wife are worried beyond measure about him.  This anxiety is to the detriment of his beloved, frail wife, Elizabeth (Shaw Purcell), ever stalwart and suffering.  Then enters the loving cauldron of adult children, Julia (Tina Van Berckelaer); Thomas (Ty Mayberry), and Caroline (Abby Eiland), and their respective spouses, Edward (Matthew Downs); Moira (Leilani Smith), and Simone (Leah Zhang).  Elizabeth believes her husband is near death, so in a frantic gesture to cement her disparate family, she concocts a plan: a family reunion/gathering in Martha’s Vineyard.  Each kid rolls his/her eyes at this ill fated plan, as it conflicts with their day to day busy lives and it is merely regarded as their mother’s last stab at civility.   Thomas and his wife Moira have decided that they want to move to California, their dream home.  Julia and her spouse Edward are frustrated with their state of childlessness, and Julia has just been offered a plum job which requires fast action.  And Dr. Caroline and her wife Simone have been invited to Simone’s brother’s wedding overseas, at the same time as the Vjneyard trip.  Just then, it seems that all is lost, ala “the well laid plans of mice and men, gang after glee,”  in other word, the trip is off.  Elizabeth, at once overjoyed, is now dismayed.    The plot intensified and thickens at this point.  Of notable mention is the exquisite dialogue; flawless direction (Kiff Scholl), and production (Racquel Lehrman), all making this show a must see.  Simple evidence of the play’s complex symbolism is that it begins on New Year’s Eve,  as the characters clink their glasses, as an ironic kudo to familial bonding, and then a decade later, in their homes in Hartford; Providence; Worcester, and Boston, the family realizes it is all over the map, literally.  Getting together physically is almost an anomaly.  Alas, of note, is a writer’s trick that I found quite effective, that of overlaid dialogue, in which two or more characters speak the same thought at the same time, driving the point bluntly home.  Also, the incidental music at set segues, rings relevant, such as “I’m Just a Rebel  Out  For  Kicks,” and “Burning Down the House,” wonderful complements to the delirious antics taking place onstage.  Again, Kiff Scholl’s direction of his play, in the style of a Greek tragi-comedy is a challenge ably mastered.  The subtle, subliminal reference/analogy of the swallows as noisy chattering creatures who appear and then fleetingly quiet and disappear, much like the Whitestone adult children is a brilliant metaphor. 

Through October 20

Fridays & Saturdays 8 pm

Sundays 2 pm

916 N. Formosa 

(323) 960-5770 

About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at and my email is
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