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Review: ‘Rose’s Dilemma’ Blooms At LALT

on November 14, 2019 - 7:21am

From left, Rose (Suzy Kroesche) and Gavin (Michael Adkins) eat a tense breakfast, while Walsh (Thomas Graves) and Arlene (Megan Pimentel) look on. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/

Los Alamos Daily Post

In ‘Rose’s Dilemma’, now being staged by Los Alamos Little Theatre, Rose Steiner (Suzy Kroesche), a literary lion who hasn’t written anything in years, faces a monetary shortfall.

Her dead lover, famous novelist Walsh McLaren (Thomas Graves) is haunting her. Rose is holed up in her beach house, living a fantasy life with McLaren, who may or may not be a figment of her imagination. McLaren suggests she hire down-at-the-heels writer, Gavin Clancy (Michael Adkins) to “ghost write” the final chapter of his unfinished novel.

Walsh McLaren is not the only ghost in the play. It’s also haunted by playwright Lillian Hellman and novelist Dashiell Hammett, the obvious models for Rose and Walsh. Playing a larger than life figure like Hellman/Rose is bound to challenge the actor in the role.

Suzy Kroesche steps up. She injects some vulnerability and tenderness into the imperious Rose, who could be over the top in less skilled hands.

Graves provides a great foil for Kroesche as McLaren. He’s dapper and sarcastic by turns and clearly keeps Rose on her toes. Megan Pimentel as Arlene, Rose’s beleaguered assistant, gets better and better as the play goes along and Arlene comes out of her shell.

Adkins does a fine job as Gavin Clancy, the ghost writer. He has great stage presence and fills the role of the down-but-not-out writer well. He and Pimentel have good chemistry and their romance is both sweet and tart.

The play is ably directed by Jim Sicilian. The sets, designed by Sicilian and Paul Lewis are beautiful and functional. The cast and crew have produced a terrific rendering of Neil Simon’s play.

As for the play itself, I enjoyed the celebration of sexuality in a couple over 50, which is too seldom seen. The concept of how love crosses the boundaries between the real and the imagined, is fresh and interesting.

If some jokes miss the mark, most hit the bull’s-eye. Seeing this production made me want to re-read Hellman and Hammett, which by itself would be worth the price of admission. The play continues 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 16, 22 and 23, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Performing Arts Center, 1670 Nectar in Los Alamos. Tickets are available at CB FOX, and at the door.