By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
“Two Saturdays in June” starts out innocently enough at APCOT Theatre as a domestic drama of frustrated emotions and sibling rivalries, a mother and her adult daughter unhappy with each other in 1965.
But in the next scene, the play leaps back in time – to 1950 – when the daughter is now a pre-adolescent who feels constantly trivialized by her dominating mom. Not in an obvious way, but in the million small ways that a parent can telegraph her favoritism for one sibling over the others.
The third scene takes us back to 1965 and we see the same mother and daughter in the same room, but now we see their personalities with a little more twisted depth.
Local playwright and fiction writer Sydney Flynn is exploring a facet of family life that is rarely examined in theater: how the almost unconscious actions of parents can become permanent parts of the personalities their children develop.
Being subservient, being unruly, plotting revenge, all are attitudes that can sprout from ideas toddlers learn by watching their mothers. Flynn's use of this time-traveling concept is a brilliant way to portray how sins of the parents are visited upon their young.
APCOT Theater is a new performance space and home of the equally new Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists, or as they love to alphabetize it, TADA!, with an exclamation point at the end.
TADA! is the dream of founding artistic director Sheldon Metz to form a company “created by theater people producing original scripts of never-performed plays that are relevant to the actors, directors, designers and stage crews.”
These plays will be chosen to suit “all ages, children to adults, presenting audiences with fresh, new theatrical productions.”
If “Two Saturdays in June” is an example of TADA!'s future, there will be lots of audiences finding their way to APCOT Theatre, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road. APCOT stands for Alliance Performance Center of Tucson.
Sharing the directing duties for this one are Jennifer Scott and Metz. Scott also has the major role of Denise, the child in 1950 who becomes the sealed off and bitter adult in 1965, headed toward that final confrontation with her mother, Gloria (Karen McGraw).
Adding an additional layer of depth and distortion is Linda Andresano returning to the stage after a lengthy absence to play Clara, the mother of Gloria.
The gist of the plot is that Denise never felt truly loved by Gloria, who adored Denise's older sister who died young in a car accident. Gloria adamantly denies this, but then we see how Gloria felt unappreciated by her own mother, Clara, because Clara had to give up her dreams of a career in vaudeville in order to raise Gloria.
The three women, representing three generations with their radically different standards of morality and “proper” behavior, play their roles like a chamber trio turning these individual parts into a layered piece of intricate emotions.
Eavesdropping on audience conversation at intermission and afterward, it seemed like several people grew up thinking “Mom liked you best.” Only, to them it wasn't a joke.
This is the first full production of “Two Saturdays in June,” which has been in several years of development at Old Pueblo Playwrights. There are some rough spots as any new play will have. This coltish feeling is a part of the excitement in seeing new work. TADA! is off to a strong start.
"Two Saturdays in June" continues through July 31 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, at APCOT Theatre, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road.
Tickets are $18 adults, $15 seniors and students; group rates available, call 520-838-0011, ext. 2. Purchase tickets online, 800-838-3006, or www.APCOT.brownpapertickets (search for "Two Saturdays in June")