This group is for members of Ryan Donovan’s discussion sections in Hunter College’s Spring 2015 Introduction to Theatre course.
Snow Orchid reviewed by Daisy Tecotl
- March 22, 2015 at 10:48 pm #1833
Snow Orchid revolved around an Italian, dysfunctional family in 1964 Brooklyn and their reaction to the coming home of their father from a mental hospital. The welcoming home of Filumena’s husband and Blaise and Sebbie’s father was meant to be a good one, but the family couldn’t get over their father Rocco being a coward who constantly turned to physical abuse towards them and one day attempted suicide. The family was faced with having to live with Rocco, whom they’re unsure has changed his abusive ways and refused to let go of their hatred towards him, while Rocco did everything he could to get the love of his family back. A scene in which I saw Filumena and Sebbie sharing an intimate moment, another where the position of the family members represented their anger, and one where Sebbie refused Rocco to take him into his arms were all images cause by the characters’ desperation that helped create the feeling of shock in Snow Orchid.
In one specific scene, Sebbie and his mother Filumena were in her room under soft lights. Sebbie was comforting his mother who was very anxious about her husband’s arrival. As Sebbie was holding his mothers arms in his hands, Filumena seemed to be looking into Sebbie’s eyes the way a woman who was madly in love would. She asked Sebbie for a kiss and he obeyed. Then almost instantly they began kissing again. Filumena seemed to lean in more for Sebbie’s kiss, while he stood sternly almost keeping her at fixed distance but continuing to kiss her. This scene was one of the most important in showing how dysfunctional this family was. After years of mistreatment and months with her husband away, this image proved Filumena was desperate. She turned to her oldest son who had become the new man of the house for love, comfort, and safety. It seemed to me the soft light was to show this scene as a romantic one while Sebbie’s distance brought you back to reality and left you open-mouthed after remembering their mother-son relationship. Sebbie loved his mother and was willing to give her any sort of affection she wished for.
During another scene at the welcoming home dinner for Rocco, Sebbie and Rocco started arguing and Filumena stepped in to defend her husband. As I watched the three characters bend over the table yelling at each other with Blaise seated between them covering his ears and closing his eyes, I couldn’t help but imagine a typical family that was having an occasional argument. However, within seconds of yelling Rocco began throwing food and spilling everything off the table in a rage, causing the family to rapidly split up. Blaise headed to the living room in one corner upset over his family’s sudden argument, Rocco stayed at the dining table in the corner angry that he couldn’t contain himself during the argument, Filumena headed to her room that was set upstage in a left corner to be alone, and Sebbie rushed to his room on the opposite corner convinced that he must stay away from his father. As each person sat in a corner, a soft lullaby-like tune began as the lights dimmed in each corner and everyone at their own moment buried their face into their hands.
The dim lights and soft music affected my mood greatly. Both allowed me to feel the tension, sadness, and anger that these characters felt and put me in a state that made question “what just happened?” It was shocking to see how quickly feelings escalated and separated the family. Rather than the lights on the entire set dimming down, the fact that the lights at each corner dimmed slightly on their own really showed each person’s negative emotions. Their faces buried in their hands was the position that showed me how desperate this family must be to bring an end to their problems and get along. As each person sat alone in the dark, the isolation between them was very clear. It was surprising that their attempt at a welcoming home dinner had ended in such a disaster.
At last, in a scene where Sebbie was packing to leave his home Rocco stepped in to say a few words to his son and offer him money for travel. As tension rose and their anger escalated once again, both began arguing. Out of nowhere, Sebbie got weak and nearly fell over. Rocco took Sebbie into his arms, as he began sweating, breathing hard, and crying uncontrollably. While Rocco was cleaning the sweat off his son’s forehead and trying to hold him, Sebbie was constantly pushing him away and whispering to his father to get away from him and to leave him alone. Rocco was making an effort to care for his son while Sebbie was struggling to get out of his arms showed the difference in their feelings towards one another. At this particular moment, the audience was quiet and the brightest light was shining down on Rocco who was sitting with Sebbie in his lap. Simultaneously, Blaise was alone in a dark living room and Filumena was out of sight. The bright light alone on Sebbie and Rocco emphasized the desperate look on their faces. This was an opportunity for the family to reverse all negative feelings but it didn’t happen. Rocco was in fact being a “new man” as he stated. It was shocking to see that in a moment of desperation, Sebbie did not accept his father’s help.
The three images where Sebbie and his mother kissed, where the family split up within the stage, and when Sebbie refused to show love for his father after almost fainting were all scenes where members of the dysfunctional family did something out of the ordinary. Their actions caused me and perhaps the rest of the audience to be shocked at the amount of problems they went through. These images were unexpected but memorable because of the surprising twists. This dysfunctional family surpassed the idea of a family that simply can’t get along. The element of surprise causing shock was also a very effective way to remember the play and maintain Snow Orchid interesting.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.