By MARGERY SHARP
On opening night of the Shelburne Players’ fall production of “Sleeping Indoors” in Town Hall Center, theatre-goers were seated in a horseshoe-shaped arena designed and executed under the capable eye of director Byron Schmidt.
In his program remarks, Schmidt noted “…the text lends itself well to the audience being close.”
The set in the round features a simple intimate area with just a coffee table, sofa and small table placed at one end of a long rug. Standing guard behind is a perfect Christmas tree over-decorated with silver ornaments.
Calling the Jim Holt play a “dramedy,” the Players set up the plot this way: “When literary reviewer Paul and his wife Nora invite a homeless man, Dwain, into their home for Christmas dinner, they don’t expect to be so charmed by him, or that his journal will be the incredible literary masterpiece that it is. But can Dwain, whose art thrives in anonymity, be convinced to give up the only life he’s known for such comforts as sleeping indoors?”
As the story opens, all is usual in Nora and Paul’s cozy urban living room until a young man steps into their space carrying a small cat.
Nora, who already nurtures four cats, has adopted yet one more – this one carried into the couple’s home by Dwain, the young man who has just appeared.
Dwain is homeless but when the family, including Nora’s sister Nichole, invites him to spend the night, he refuses. He would “prefer” to sleep out-of-doors. The family cannot fathom his attitude but comes to respect it as they learn his nomadic history.
Nora (played by Linda Kindsvatter) is amusing and brings brightness to every scene. She carries herself well, seeming comfortable in her role.
Dennis McSorley’s Paul has a predictable, negative reaction to Dwain. He is perfectly cast as the successful husband who does not understand this homeless person. Occasionally he touches the gaudy Christmas tree as if to keep touch with his own reality.
Nichole (played by Jacey Fountain) has facial and bodily reactions to Dwain that convey her sudden warm feelings for this homeless visitor.
Finally, David Belvedere as Dwain keeps his demeanor controlled although his voice occasionally gives away his affection and gratitude for this hospitable family.
It’s not easy to transform a high-ceilinged gymnasium into an intimate arena-style stage but the lightning effects help create that illusion – congratulations to the lighting crew.
The sentimental Christmas tunes set the right mood and the dress-up holiday costumes add to the fun and laughter of this theatre piece.
As always, a hardworking production and backstage crew helped make opening night for “Sleeping Indoors” a successful and entertaining event.
Many Shelburne businesses supported the Players by advertising in the nicely-designed program.
In recognition of the work the Champlain Housing Trust does for the homeless, proceeds from the concession sales were donated to that organization.
The final three performances of “Sleeping Indoors” are tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $15, at Shelburne Market or online. Details at shelburneplayers.com; 343-2602; Facebook.