Grief finds us in many different ways and dealt with equally many different ways. It comes to us for those that are dead or those who are simply lost to us. We weep, we curse and we sometimes follow some meticulous, meaningless but meaningful procedures to forget, to remember and to honor.
Pacific Theatre presents An Almost Holy Picture by Heather McDonald directed by Ron Reed and starring David Snider as Samuel Gentle. Samuel tells the audience, or perhaps himself, how he came to be a groundskeeper from minister. How he has heard God’s voice three times yet cannot find peace.
Samuel’s (David Snider) soothing and even calm voice as he tells his rather tragic story draws the audience in, all swaying together with every rhythm and repetition, almost like poetry. Personally for that reason I feel like this should have benefited greatly from being on a different medium such as prose, poetry or radio. However, the lighting design (Phil Miguel) and set design (Anna Schroeder) enhances the monologue visually. Samuel thinks, thinks, and thinks over and over about what happened and what it all means, why he suffers. Over time he has developed some rituals, or ceremonies, that may not be conventionally seen as prayer but nevertheless is his relationship with God. His love for his daughter, Ariel, is evident and though I related more to Ariel and what she must have felt, it was heartbreaking to see Samuel’s, the parent’s side of the story. His love for Ariel has quickly become over-protection, jealousy, and even obsession, and the parallel with he and Ariel and God and himself as a parent-child relationship is fitting.
Accompany Samuel Gentle as he copes with grief, guilt and misguided love with the most powerful ritual of them all; reflection.