The past haunts the characters in “Madaket Road” so thoroughly, they live their lives in constant reruns. John Guare’s play, which opened Friday night in a production from EgoPo Classic Theater, is the third of a trilogy centered on a woman named Lydie Breeze. Even in death, she remains a vibrant force in her extended family’s life on the otherwise serene island of Nantucket.
EgoPo is the first stage company to produce all three plays of the “Lydie Breeze Trilogy” in succession, a bold move that has consumed its entire season. I’ve seen the shows as they opened beginning in February, and the complete set is a testament to Guare’s storytelling (among his works are “Six Degrees of Separation” and the film “Atlantic City”) and his keen way with the intricacies of a plot. Something unexpected comes along from scene to scene – and play to play. We all turn a corner we never knew was there, and none of it is forced or false.
In “Madaket Road” – called “Home,” a better title with fuller meaning, until it was in rehearsal – the complexities are many; if you haven’t seen the other plays or at least one of them, you may think you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole. Beginning next week, EgoPo will be staging all three plays and you can see the entire trilogy. (See details following this review.)
“Madaket Road,” like any good series wrap-up, gives closure to the characters we first met in part one, called Cold Harbor,” and also to the next generation we began to meet in Part Two, “Aipotu.” The first play is itself an epic, in which a field nurse named Lydie Breeze during the Civil War teams with a man photographing the war and his assistant, and the three of them meet up with the chief of supplies on a ship. They end up in Nantucket, where Lydie’s family has roots and property.
In the second play, the commune that the characters have founded is having its troubles because they’ve developed their own goals and lost faith in their vision and in each other. Now, in “Madaket Road,” they’ve scattered or died, all except for one: Joshua Hickman, the photographer of part one, richly played throughout the series by Charlie DelMarcelle. Lydie Breeze (Melanie Julian) herself is gone, but she still inhabits every scene of this play in the characters’ thoughts, memories, motives and declarations.
This shifts the tone of the trilogy, until now highly involved plot progression but in “Madaket Road” at least as much about inner thoughts and ghosts of the past who stir them. I’m not going to get into the storyline — that would make for a confusing spoiler. Like much of the rest of the trilogy, it takes place outdoors, on Markéta Fantová’s set of a sand-covered stage, stairs and not much more. An ensemble located above the action plays and sings original incidental music by Jay Ansill and Cynthia Hopkins.
The cast is, as in the first two plays, excellent and the direction by EgoPo’s leader, Lane Savadove, is the best kind: It lets the story unfold naturally on this beach, even when the supernatural comes into play. Savadove’s realization of these plays is, like the trilogy itself, an achievement. The three plays are unlikely to be soon done again all together, so I hope the entire trilogy finds its way to a publisher to at least be enjoyed as a good read.
“Madaket Road,” produced by Ego Po Classic Theater, runs through April 22 in the theater on the top floor of Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St., to the side of Christ Church at Second and Market Streets. Tickets are available for all three plays over three consecutive evenings beginning April 25 and May 2. The entire trilogy, with breaks for meals, will be performed in a single day four times: April 28, April 29, May 5 and May 6. Meal packages are available. For more information: egopo.org.