Theater review: 'Julia' at Pacific Resident Theatre
Fade in on a shabby coffee shop somewhere in western Pennsylvania: Owner Steve (Keith Stevenson) is perfectly happy without customers when eccentric geezer Lou (Richard Fancy) shows up looking for a cup of coffee. Or so he says. It’s an old setup, but the return of the prodigal still plays in “Julia,” a world premiere drama by Vince Melocchi now at Pacific Resident Theatre.
Turns out ornery Lou is a former co-worker of glad-hander Frank (Haskell Vaughn Anderson III) and Steve’s declining mother, Julia (Roses Prichard). Lou’s been walking around with a hole in his heart for half a century, and now he’s come back to make it right with Julia. He’s dreamed of this moment for decades, but when their reunion comes at the local nursing home, it’s not quite what Lou expected.
Directed with good humor by Guillermo Cienfuegos, the play has the low-key feel of real life — just regular people making up their lives as they go along. Fancy and Prichard are moving together, while Stevenson and Anderson bring up the comic rear. Only the flashback scene, in which a teenage Lou (Justin Preston) and a pretty young Julia (Marley McClean) tussle with mixed feelings, lacks Melocchi’s usual persuasiveness.
Norman Scott’s deft scenic design carries us from Steve’s cafe to the drugstore roof where these old folks were kids, and then to Julia’s little corner of retirement. But this small, sweet play really lives in Fancy’s eyes, carrying a lifetime of yearning and pain.
-- Charlotte Stoudt
“Julia,” Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 Venice Blvd., Venice. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. No performances Dec. 23-Jan. 2. Ends Jan. 30. $20-$30. (310) 822-8392 or www.PacificResidentTheatre.com. Running time: 2 hours.
Photo: Richard Fancy and Roses Prichard. Credit: Alex Moy.