Dallas — Brittany Alyse Willis is a poet who is also expanding into playwriting. A resident of Washington, D.C., Willis is a native Texan who graduated from the University of North Texas at Denton with a degree in theatre. Blisters, produced by Echo Theatre and directed by Terri Ferguson, is aptly described as an offbeat tale about the difficulties in letting go.
The story is set in Texas. There are four characters: Jack (Matthew Eitzen), his friend and neighbor Ethan (J.R. Bradford), Ethan’s wife Keri (Dominique Brinkely), and the ghost of Jack’s dead sister Jill (Stephanie Butler). We meet Jack as he is sitting outside his house smoking a cigarette. His house is afire. Neighbor Ethan rushes over to assist. From this point forward the story becomes somewhat convoluted beginning with Jack’s announcement that his dead twin sister’s body is inside the burning house.
To say that the script needs more incubator time is understating the amount of work needed, from fully fleshing out themes to establishing an order to the transitions. This is a story about deep and personal loss, a subject that is readily translatable to an audience. The theme of grieving and loss is presented through twinness and the impact of the death of one twin on the surviving twin. That is an interesting and unexpected course.
Jack introduces Ethan to the audience as a neighbor that is only a friend through the default of proximity, yet the interactions between Jack, Ethan and Keri suggest otherwise. Perhaps the disconnect among the actors was intended to reinforce the premise that Jack was closing himself off emotionally from the living. Instead it ignored opportunities to give the audience a reason to care. There is a ripe field of possibilities with the Jack and ghost-of-Jill interactions. It would be nice to see how Willis mines those characters as the script evolves. Terri Ferguson selected a minimal set for this story. Her decision to use lighting and sound to help smooth the transitions was helpful.
Plays need air. As with the spoken word, the lines of a play need a chance to be spoken in front of an audience. That is why play festivals are so vital, especially those featuring the works of emerging playwrights. Blisters is in its infancy, but it has ingredients deserving of the investment of time.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres in our special section here, where you can also learn how to download our FIT app. In that app, you'll see a section for the playbills for each company, which includes cast, creative and director's notes.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres here.
» Read our interview with Brittany Alyse Willis
Blisters is performed in the following blocks:
- 8pm Thursday, July 21
- 5pm Sunday, July 24
- 8pm Friday, July 29
- 2pm Saturday, July 30