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Review: Apples in Winter at The Mockingbird on Main

Mockingbird on Main

Welcome to the 2023 theater season. I’ve been researching this year’s offerings from as many venues as I can think of and it’s an exciting year ahead from classics like Chekov’s The Seagull to Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park to what looks to be a really comic romp – an adaptation of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. So buckle up, it promises to be a fun ride.

Kicking off the New Year is The Mockingbird on Main’s current production of Jennifer Fawcett’s – who earned her MFA at the University of Iowa’s Playwright Workshop - Apples in Winter, which won both the National New Play Network and the Susan Glaspell awards and is ably produced and directed by Eric Teeter.

The script is described online as “…an extraordinarily powerful and yet deeply compassionate play that challenges the audience to reflect on the impact of violent crime on its hidden victims.” Indeed.

The play is set in a small kitchen at a penitentiary where Miriam, mother of a death row inmate hours away from execution, is being allowed to prepare her son, Robert’s, final meal request: her homemade apple pie. Prison authorities will not permit her to bake the pie at home.

From the moment we enter this intimate venue of only about 30 or so seats there is an overriding sound of a ticking clock amplifying the time left.

We witness, in very close to real time, Miriam’s preparations as she reflects upon the past and how she and Robert arrived at this day as well as how his actions have impacted her life. It is an agonizing trip.

She shares how she nurtured an apple tree in their backyard yielding the “perfect” fruit for pie, and how Robert’s father was a rather harsh task master, implying the fault for Robert’s teenage rebellion and descent into drug addiction lays on his shoulders. But – did SHE play any part into the incident that landed Robert where he is now?

Bearing the brunt of the entire play, Kathryn Graham artfully navigates a roller coaster 90 minutes of gut wrenching emotion from deeply sad acceptance to rage over how her life has played out. She deftly strikes the right notes that bring tears to the eye.

On a somewhat lighter note, Miriam actually prepares a pie for baking and although there isn’t sufficient time to fully bake it, at the conclusion of the show there is a RAFFLE for the pie. That brings to mind a couple of observations that could have enhanced the believability of this show. Yes, there wasn’t time to actually BAKE the pie, but the oven on set wasn’t plugged in so when the oven door was opened the light didn’t go on and although the refrigerator WAS plugged in, when that door was opened the shelves were empty. Some random bottles or jars of something would have been nice. And, in addition to the ticking clock one of those plug-in apple cinnamon scent thingies would have been awesome.

Apples in Winter continues Friday and Saturday, January 27th and 28th at 7:30 pm at The Mockingbird on Main, 320 North Main Street in Davenport – that’s the building right behind Me & Billy. And just think…YOU might win a pie! I did!