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The Grapes of Wrath 

Thursday, Feb 28 2013
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There are no weak links in Michael Michetti's staging of The Grapes of Wrath. It is a study of characters adrift, American refugees of the Great Depression, starting with the decision of the Joad family to leave Dust Bowl–cursed Oklahoma for California. On the horizon of the dusty plains is the hope of opportunities afforded by the Golden State, where they imagine they can pluck oranges from the trees and crush grapes with their feet. Matt Gottlieb beautifully portrays an evangelical preacher turned humanist, spending much of the action off by himself pondering where on earth he's going and what on earth he's done. Mostly he's struggling for a definition of what's holy, and it usually settles on something closer to men and women than to God: "When you're working together, harnessed to the whole shebang." The stage is populated by wonderful actors, such as Deborah Strang as Ma Joad, indescribably nuanced in her portrayal of a dignified woman whose strength is cleaved by apprehension; by Lindsey Ginter as her simple husband, perpetually eager to avoid conflict and to accommodate; and by Steve Coombs as their short-tempered, ex-con son, who's quite the opposite of his dad. Amidst the brutality of what would today be called climate change, the play is a battle cry for all of us to treat each other with dignity. Its humane view is almost theological, biblical, in its depiction of one character's sacrifice for his people.
Sat., Feb. 23, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 24, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 3, 2 & 8 p.m.; Mon., March 4, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 24, 2 & 8 p.m.; Thu., April 11, 8 p.m.; Fri., April 12, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 20, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., April 21, 2 & 8 p.m.; Fri., May 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 11, 2 & 8 p.m., 2013
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Reach the writer at smorris@laweekly.com

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