“The Quickening” at Fells Point Corner Theatre, in a co-production with The Collaborative Theatre Company, and written by local Baltimore playwright Mark Scharf, delivers a number of chills to the stage. Directed by Ann Turiano, “The Quickening” is a modern ghost story with many ties to the past.
The quickening usually refers to when a pregnant woman feels her baby moving inside her for the first time, between the 14th and 20th week of pregnancy. The movement feels like light rolling or the fluttering of wings. In Scharf’s story the main character, Beth Wells (Amanda Spellman), is heavy with pregnancy and has just moved into a new house in Richmond, VA with her husband, Matt Wells (David Shoemaker). Moving from Baltimore, the couple finds themselves very close the Civil War Battlefields, which Matt is thrilled about because he can participate in all the reenactments that he wants.
My challenge to you is to go see “The Quickening” and count the number of times you jump!
The fact that Matt is a Confederate soldier for the reenactments is an immediate point of contention with Beth and Matt’s new neighbor, Philomena “Phil” Johnson. Played by African-American actor, Debbie Bennett, Phil begins the play with a monologue filled with “What ifs,” based on the physics of life and when that life begins and when it ends and does that soul or conscience move on to another baby waiting to begin life anew. Although this sounds like these thoughts are “new age,” Ms. Bennett does a great job anchoring the audience to the more realistic and fact-based explanations of what is happening in the Wells’ new home.
Beth is the one that is most affected by the strange occurrences in their home and Spellman easily rises to the challenge. Her fear for herself and especially her baby is palpable and so natural, I found myself forgetting I was in the audience watching a play and felt the distress along with her.
At the beginning of the second act, we get introduced to Beth’s mother, Rosemary DiPaula, played by the wonderful actor, Marianne Gazzola Angelella. Angelella’s Baltimore accent is exceptional and natural, and her concern for her daughter and soon to be born grandchild was effortlessly conveyed.
The women overshadow David Shoemaker’s character Matt, but he holds his own in portraying a caring, doting husband trying to do his best with an unknown situation.
The mood and setting of this play is an important character as well. The lights and sounds play a huge role in moving the action along. Lighting designer, Tabetha White and Sound designer, Devyn Deguzman are to be commended for their work.
I wish I could more details into the happenings on stage, but I don’t want to give any additional details away. The only other thing I will say is that it is very hard to produce jump scares on stage and to do it a number of times is marvelous. My challenge to you is to go see “The Quickening” and count the number of times you jump!
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
Advisory: Loud noises and flashing lights.
“The Quickening” is playing through July 1, 2018, at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 South Ann Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, go online.