Al Marshall and Moe Harrington in "elegy in blue." Photo courtesy of Rarely Done Productions, used with permission.
Scooting furtively around in his wheelchair, his hunched posture emphasizing the thrust and shape of his head, Rodney almost resembles a rat. As played superbly by David Simmons, the homeless Rodney is coarse, resentful, given to venal outbursts, and always on the lookout for food. He's one of five characters in Rarely Done Production's season opener that continues from last week at Jazz Central, "elegy in blue," written and directed by Donna Stuccio. In the end, Rodney does get the home-made cookie he's long coveted from beat cop Celeste Luna (Moe Harrington), though I'm not sure either of them really views this as a fresh start. Rodney could easily be a two-dimensional foil. But Stuccio's characterization of Rodney and Simmons' incarnation -- each avoiding both extremes of sentimentality and stereotype -- are instead impressive.
"elegy in blue" is the sequel to Stuccio's 1999 play, "Blue Moon," though you needn't have seen the first play. Stuccio herself is a former police officer and now president of Armory Square Playhouse, where both plays had readings staged before their full production.
This new chapter in Officer Luna's life takes place over just four late summer days in Atlantic City, largely in Angelsea Park but also at the beach, in Celeste's living room and, finally, at the cemetery. There is also a prologue, occurring the first morning, when Luna silently finishes dressing in her police uniform, spot-lit at one end of the dark stage, while at the other end of the stage, also in a pool of light, the character Lucas (a fine Al Marshall) mirrors her in his own morning ritual. This creates an equivalence between the two -- dramatically, because each has lost someone they still seek and each has no idea they will soon encounter the other -- and an echo. Luna still thinks she hears her lover singing a snatch of guitar-accompanied song -- another police officer dead for a decade now -- and Lucas, just out of a Southern prison after forty years, has come to Atlantic City searching for his son, whom he'd last seen when the boy was ten or so.