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Frozen at Curious Theater Tackles Icy Themes

By Katharine Swan

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Bryony Lavery's Frozen is a unique play, both in its subject matter and its style.  The play centers around the disturbing issues of child abduction, sexual abuse, and the impact on those involved in the case of a missing little girl.  The cast is composed of three characters the child's mother, Nancy, played by Kathryn Gray; the child's abductor, Ralph, played by William Hahn; and Agnetha, the eager, young psychiatrist who is using Ralph in her study of crimes of illness, played by Diana Dresser yet the manner in which their lines are designed brings to life many other characters who weave in and out of the story.

William Hahn as Ralph

In the beginning of the play, none of the characters interact.  Instead, they take turns telling pieces of their stories in a believable mix of dialogue and storytelling, suspense interspersed with humor.  Conversations are represented in such a way that, recalling a certain scene, it's a surprise to realize that the other characters a father, a daughter, the missing child, the landlady were not there.  The story unfolds slowly at first: Nancy walks us through her last conversation with her daughter, Rona, and the first hours after her disappearance; Ralph shows us, with disturbing eagerness, how he lured little Rona into his van; the psychiatrist embarks on her trip to Great Britain, where she will present her thesis.  Gradually, the characters begin to interact with each other, first as Agnetha demonstrates her findings, using Ralph as her subject, and then with a brief meeting between Agnetha and Nancy, in which Nancy demands to be allowed to meet with her daughter's abductor.  These interactions drive the story forward, converging inevitably on the one meeting that matters, that between Ralph and Nancy.

The psychiatrist and her subject

Although Frozen centers around the characters affected by the disappearance of a little girl, it's not really about Rona.  Rather, the play explores the impact her captor's crime has on her family, her abductor, and the professional who studies him.  This focus becomes obvious midway through the play, when Nancy describes a conversation with her other daughter, now grown: ''She was my little girl,' and she says, 'So was I.''  It also becomes clear that the title of the play does not just refer to Ralph and Agnetha's study of the criminal mind, but also to Rona's family, waiting for two decades for their little girl to come home.  Once the waiting is over, and the ice that has kept them together begins to melt, they are free to live their own lives again.

Showdown: The abductor and his victim's mother

Frozen is showing at the Curious Theatre in Denver through February 25, 2006.  To purchase tickets, visit the Curious Theatre online, or call (303) 623-0524.

Kathryn Gray as Nancy

All Photos by - Michael Ensminger

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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