Natalie Parker-Lawrence is a good writer. It's easy to imagine the characters she words into existence as flesh and blood people. There are many fine, emotionally honest passages in her new play, A Box of Yellow Stars
. But good writers aren't always good plotters, and developing conflict may not be this full-time educator's strongest hand. In its current state A Box of Yellow Stars
plays out more like a collection of related sketches than cohesive piece of theater. Still, fans of good acting may not mind the opportunity to watch Janie Paris and Donna Lappin do their thing
There's a lot of promise in the premise, and a lot of heart evident in its execution. The setup: During WWII an American trumpet player and spy married (and quickly divorced)14 Jewish women (and apparently one man) in order to bring them to America and save them from the Nazis. The story is told in the form of various remembrances at his funeral, which is attended by three of the ex-wives, none of whom really know each other. It's based on a story the playwright learned from one of her students, and allegedly true.
Director Ruby O'Gray has helped her actors build believable relationships and that carries the show forward when the play spins its wheels.
There's a lot of good stuff happening in the first 1/3 of this script, but the last 2/3 aren't quite ready for prime time. Best advice I've got: Jettison the last two acts. Don't look back. Let this play be about a mother and daughter opening a box of yellow stars with the help of some new friends. Let them discover they are all part of a much bigger family.