Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Deidre Hiatt as Muriel and Wes Tolman as Richard Miller in UVSC's production of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness."
"AH, WILDERNESS," by Eugene O'Neill; Ragan Theater, Sorensen Student Center, UVSC; closes Nov. 3; (863-8797); running time: 2 hours, one 15 -minute intermission.

OREM — It's rare when one leaves an Eugene O'Neill play light-hearted and smiling.

Then again, O'Neill didn't write many light-hearted shows like "Ah, Wilderness."

This particular script is set in the early 1900s on and around July Fourth. Generally, it's about a family and profiling each member's strengths and weaknesses.

The play is particularly centered on Richard, the character transforming from boy to man. His perceived notions on romance, politics and how things just ought to be are often amusing, bewildering and, for those over 40, give pause for reflection.

There are some really fun moments for the members of this cast, who are mostly students at UVSC. The majority of the cast are excellent in their roles and hold their own with some fun comical scenes and some very tender moments, too.

Of particular note is Adam Slee's interpretation of Uncle Sid Davis. This character has a cherubic face and is a mixture of the enthusiasm similar to Ross the intern on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and the endearing qualities of Otis, the town drunk on the "Andy Griffith Show." He was wonderful and a bright light in the cast.

All of the main leads including Laura Garner as Mrs. Miller; Jeremy J. Minagro as Nat Miller, and Anna-Marie Johnson as Lilly Miller do a great job of carrying on with comedic timing and some sensitive issues as well.

While most of the cast were suited to their characters, a few needed some lessons in diction and to slow down. One can only hope it was opening night jitters. It was hard to understand some of the lines in act one.

The sets are fairly simplistic but very versatile as the stage transforms from a lovely parlor to a back street bordello, to a dining room. The costumes were lovely and held nicely to the time period.

In all, it was a great evening with some good laughs and some thought-provoking conversation on some values and standards that are as important today as in 1906.

Sensitivity rating: This is not a play for children under eight. Language is strong. There are some hefty hells and damns throughout. There is also brief sexual innuendo.


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