NWC theatre to present O'Neill play

“Ah, Wilderness!” by Eugene O’Neill will be presented by Northwestern College theatre November 9, 10 and 14–17. The curtain will rise at 7:30 each evening in the England Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center.

Northwestern theatre professor Karen Bohm Barker is directing the comedic drama after having taught a class on the plays of O’Neill last year. “O’Neill’s plays can be cumbersome—even a little depressing,” admits Barker, “but the students loved them and really got them. They asked, ‘When can we do an O’Neill play here?’”

Barker chose a play she describes as a tender comedy—the “antidote” to plays like “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” O’Neill’s autobiographical play about a dysfunctional, self-destructive family.

Set during Fourth of July weekend in 1906, “Ah, Wilderness!” takes place mostly at the home of the Miller family. Richard Miller, 16, has been warned away from the girl he loves, Muriel, by her father. The weekend’s antics land him in the neighborhood bar where he faces a choice between indulging lust or waiting for love.

Barker says the costumes will be early 20th century, and the staging will be minimal in order to focus on the familial relationships—as well as love lost and love sustained—which is where the real action of the play takes place.

The 15-member cast includes several actors from the region, including Hannah Barker, Orange City, who has the role of Richard’s mother; Jordan Starkenburg, Hartley, as the older brother; and Abby Bierly, Hull, as temptress Belle.

Tickets for “Ah, Wilderness!” are $7 for adults and $4 for students. The DeWitt Theatre box office opens Oct. 29 for Theatre Patrons; it is open Oct. 30 through Nov. 17 for the general public.

Tickets can be reserved by visiting the box office between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday or between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The box office can also be reached by phone, 712-707-7098, or e-mail, boxoffice@nwciowa.edu.