Arts and Entertainment

Taking 'Scotland Road' at Poulsbo's Jewel Box

Valerie Anne and Fred Saas in the Jewel Box Theatre
Valerie Anne and Fred Saas in the Jewel Box Theatre's 'Scotland Road,' opening this Friday.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

His resolve is like a law of nature; unending, uneradicable. He leans over the woman, his posture betraying his words.

“We want to help,” he says. “We have time, the world can wait.”

The man, John, is attempting to extract an identity from a woman found floating on an iceberg, her only utterance this: “Titanic.” It is the late 20th century and she is dressed in early 20th century clothing.

The two make up half the characters in the Jewel Box Theatre’s production of “Scotland Road,” debuting tonight. The award-winning script is a dark tale of identity and obsession.

“By the end of the play, nothing is what you thought it was,” said director Todd Erler. “It’s all about identity and lies — what face we present to the world.”

John, played with a visceral authenticity by Fred Saas, is captivated by all things Titanic. He is controlled by his desire to learn what it was like, to place himself in the very shoes of those who experienced the grand ship’s ill-fated sinking on its 1912 maiden voyage.

When the woman is picked up by a Norwegian fishing boat, he persuades an American doctor to bring her to the coast of Maine, to a little room where he questions her exhaustively, looking for any flinch, any answer. He believes she is “perverting sacred memory.”

The stage is blank as a canvas — its floor and two plain doors white as an iceberg — providing the actors ample room to color the black box with their monologues.

The woman, mute for the entire first act, is played with a haunting vulnerability by Valerie Anne. She lists off items in her sunken luggage delicately, and with fondness, as if stringing together a necklace of pearls. She appears to be in her 20s, though it’s been 80 years since the sinking of the ship. How can it be, John wonders, that she survived nearly 30,000 days at sea without food, water or warmth?

Her compromising doctor, brought to life by Nancy Frye, earns her own stake in the story’s mystery. She is tended to by two mutes, whom the audience never sees. And Pat Scott is Miss Kittle, the last known remaining Titanic survivor and a brassy force, wielding her wheelchair as punctuation to her remarks. Paired against Saas, Scott gives the show a second wind in its final act.

“By the end of the show, it really tries to transport you to a different place,” added Erler. “People get what they deserve in the best way.”

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