They DID NOT Live Happily Ever After: A Review of none too fragile’s Production of “Salvage” by George Brant
by Josy Jones
They never lived happily ever after. There’s no such thing; in fact, life isn’t that easy. It’s messy. It is filled with unresolved relationships, none of which end in “happily ever after.” George Brant’s “Salvage” addresses this reality by discussing storytelling as a recurring theme alongside preservation. “Salvage” is the story of Danny Aspern, a recently deceased man, and the three women who are burdened in some way to preserve his memory.
After Danny Aspern’s funeral, his sister Kelly and his mother Roberta take on the task of sorting his things and deciding which are important to keep. Unfortunately, Danny is revealed to be quite a hoarder. Shortly after, Amanda Graham, Danny’s high school sweetheart and a famous author, shows up to help sort through Danny’s belongings, but her idea of preserving Danny’s memory—and her own—causes major conflicts and chaos to ensue.
“Salvage” is a fascinating piece for several reasons. Firstly, the cast is three women. That’s it. How many plays have strong, complex women characters? Now, how many of those plays are all women casts? Not many. It was refreshing to see. To top it off, everything in the play happens in one setting, which can be difficult to pull off. In single-setting, full-length plays, the production’s ability to hold the audience’s attention depends solely on the actors and their storytelling abilities.
The cast of “Salvage” did a great job of using dialogue to take us out of the basement of the Aspern house. Through them, I met Danny without him ever manifesting on stage, and the script has such strong imagery that you can see all the places, people and memories the women describe. In fact, there was one image that struck me the most: the haunting, waiting laptop described by Roberta Aspern as she tries to convince Amanda that without Roberta’s help, her career as a writer will be reduced to writer’s block and the unused laptop that will haunt her forever. It was a frightening, powerful image that Roberta, played by DeDe Klein, made all too real.
The exploration of death and the inability to ignore the good and bad memories that make up a person’s legacy, the different manifestations of grief, the theme of preserving a person’s memory after death, and the continuous discussion of romanticizing neat, fairytale narratives makes “Salvage” one hell of a commentary on the human condition. Brant even goes further to reject the “happily ever after” myth by leaving his own audience with a muddled, unresolved ending. I respect none too fragile’s fearlessness in picking such a play and it helped me understand the kinds of plays produced at none too fragile.
If you’re looking for a new theater to try out to see something new and thought provoking, I’d say none too fragile is your place. Their season is filled with high quality, off-Broadway shows that are unique to the area that will keep you talking long after you’ve left. And although they produce difficult, off-Broadway work, the none too fragile family loves Akron and welcomes you with open arms and a shot of Jameson (literally), so you won’t feel like an outsider and you’ll be comfortable to experience what they offer in their (super cool) black box theater.
Josy Jones loves theatre and is in love with the diversity of theatre in Akron.
Photos courtesy of none too fragile.
2nd Picture: (L to R) Derdriu Ring as Amanda Graham and Kelly Strand as Kelly Aspern;