“Cold Stun” by Rob Rosiello is the sole original show in this season’s varied lineup at Town and Country Players in Buckingham and is part of the theater company’s Signature Series of original works.
Written 10 years ago by Rosiello and directed by experienced director Sarah LeClair, the drama is set in Cape Cod, Mass., during turtle rescue season. At the end of each vacation season, when the ocean water chills, turtles fall prey to “cold stunning,” a hypothermic reaction that can be fatal if they aren’t rescued by volunteers.
Rosiello has written a metaphor for the turtles’ trauma by creating the Cook family, which is still dealing with the father’s death at sea 40 years ago. In their own way, the family is “cold stunned” and in need of rescue.
The story is told out of sequence, starting with today, then moving backward to yesterday to offer background on what has happened. It concludes with the events of “tomorrow,” which is the next day.
The cast of four is led by experienced and talented actor Ken Stephon, who portrays Randall Cook, one of two sons of Marabeth Cook, played by Elaine Wallace. The two ably portray a mother and son with long-term grievances, with Wallace having the added challenge of performing while not using her voice during the first act.
Stephon’s role is key to the show; he performs in most of the scenes and is the link to the other characters, including Roseann Enwright as the broken-hearted yet charming turtle searcher Taylor Porter Smith, and Sharon Warner as Randall’s sassy soon-to-be ex-wife. Each of the four actors shines in their roles, bringing their characters to life with power and sincerity.
Their job is to show the dysfunction of the Cook family, which has plenty. But this play is not only about sorrow. Rosiello shares the hope that springs from interactions between people who love each other no matter how much they argue. It helps that the well-chosen cast members have their own chemistry, which draws you into the story and makes you root for them to find happiness.
The set is excellently constructed despite the challenge of working in a theater-in-the-round. The small stage is used to create both a beach and the interior of a beach house with visibility from all angles.
While this is Rosiello’s first production at Town and Country, it is not his first work, and he has an extensive theater resumé that includes additional plays, teaching and acting.
The play continues for two more weekends, and anyone who is interested in a compelling tale of family interaction and the chance to see an original work during its first run will not be disappointed.