Only two actors take the stage, Michael Stock
in the role of Abe and Alyssa Cartwright as Sabra. After a literally
explosive beginning, a mine detonation that severely injures
Abe, his fellow soldiers temporarily abandon him because another
Israeli, Benny, Abes best friend, requires more urgent
attention after the blast. Sabra enters and he immediately puts
her at gunpoint.
Sabra dwells in a cave beneath the hill, and with high-decibel
ultimatums, Abe forces his way inside with her. Sunde set up
a high-stakes situation for them both: He has the gun but also
a severely hurt leg. She has shelter. Each fears and initially
dislikes the other.
The ice of their mutual grudges slowly melts. She bathes his
wounds and feeds him. Despite memories of violence at the hands
of the enemy, Abe and Sabra develop a passionate fondness and
eventually make love, the absurdity of their future together
a recurring theme.
Sunde, with astute research, creatively puts two disparate characters
at odds, playing a dangerous, real-life chess game. How His
Bride Came to Abraham deals with a sobering, solemn topic
and makes for a heavy event.
Cartwright plays Sabra truthfully and with tender imagery. Sabra
recounts the horrors her family members suffered, the emotional
impact visible in Cartwrights face. Director Cynthia Levin
chose the correct physical type when she cast Stock as Abe,
but he fails to match the vulnerability in Cartwrights
performance. He overuses one gesture with his hands: the pinky,
forefinger and thumb extended with the middle and ring fingers
curled, a common gesture in the world of the American skater
kid. Is it also a common Israeli hand motion?
Gary Mosby designed an appropriately chilling set with an upper
level that curves like a desert snake into a cave underground.
A live fire in a steel drum rises and falls with the action
of the play; the flames tickle the air just a little bit higher
when Abe and Sabra get intimate.
The Unicorns production is the professional world premiere
of How His Bride Came to Abraham. It runs through Sunday,
Feb. 15. Performances are Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday
through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at
3 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Unicorn Box Office or
by phoning 816-531-PLAY (7529), ext. 10.
* * * *
Missy Koonce, actress, singer, comic, choreographer,
director, has worked for almost all area professional theatre
companies. My Way, a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra,
marked Missys directorial debut at the American Heartland
Theatre. Her work with the irreverent Late Night Theatre in
particular has given her a devoted following of fans. Last season,
she appeared as Lucille Ball in Loving Lucy at the Unicorn,
a one-woman show. Only her confident stage presence, her naughty
sense of humor and her expressive singing eclipse her impressive
In 1997, while working at the Boulder Dinner Theatre, Koonce
visited an upscale piano bar in Denver called The Grand.
She thought at the time that Kansas City lacked any such establishment.
A score of years later, after finding an investor and a fittingly
urban locale, Koonce has opened Bar Natasha
at 1911 Main.
In the Coteries production of Rocky and Bullwinkle,
Koonce played the elevated and evil Natasha. The bar carries
the name of one of Koonces favorite characters.
Like many performers, Koonce has often supported herself in
the restaurant industry. Far from abandoning her rightful place
on the stage, Koonce has given birth to a venue that meets her
two professions. In the middle of Bar Natasha sits a round stage
with a shiny grand piano. One night, Koonce stepped on the platform,
grasped the microphone and said, This is the great thing
about this place; I can get up and sing whenever I want.
Pianist and singer in her own right, Marilyn Wood, accompanies
her with a gentle touch to the keys. Wearing a sparkling tinsel
wig, Wood provides melodies in between Koonces sets.
In addition to cocktails, Bar Natasha offers desserts and savories.
We dont call them tapas because were not Spanish,
Koonce said. Like her performing, her cabaret runs with originality,
wit and integrity.
Koonce will maintain a presence in the theatre community. She
will direct The Big Friendly Giant at the Coterie Theatre
and continues to serve on the Advisory Board for Late Night
Theatre, where she worked as a performer, director and executive
producer with another local demi-celebrity, Ron Megee.
Ron says, Missy and I set out to conquer the world.
Now weve split up so we can cover more territory,
Koonce remarked. Her loyal audience can still catch her in action,
singing, telling jokes and running the joint at Bar Natasha.
David Ollington can be contacted at Ollington@aol.com or publisher_editEKC@kcactive.com.