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TIME AND CHANCE REVIEW

‘Time and Chance’: redemption on the big stage

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As a playwright, Las Cruces’ Mark Medoff was known for anti-heroes and strong women. In a way, Rio Grande Theatre’s production of his final play “Time and Chance” combined the best of both in an abbreviated (because of actors’ commitments) run Nov. 7-9. It was an incredible production that I will never forget – a taste of Broadway for someone who’s never been there.

We would expect nothing less than a brilliant script from Medoff (with help during his last days from his family), and that’s what we got. It’s a compelling story of old fears and young dreams, of ruthlessness and compassion, of struggle and Hope (a capital “H” because I have no doubt Mark’s beloved granddaughter by that name figures into it.) There are heroes and anti-heroes and four strong women – the characters and the actors who played them with such grace and honesty.

Here again, that’s what we have come to expect from the Oscar-nominated Kathleen Quinlan, whose performances we have loved in “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” and “Apollo 13,” and who first worked with Medoff in 1988’s “Clara’s Heart,” for which he wrote the screenplay and co-starred, and which introduced the world to Neil Patrick Harris. We also expect a great performance from Jessica Medoff, and she delivers grandly as she has in so many Las Cruces stage and film productions over the years.

Mark would have loved everything they do with his words and the world he has created for them.

One of the best things about “Time and Chance” was seeing two New York actors who came to Las Cruces for this show: Jane Elias and Frances Ramos. I so enjoyed and marveled at their work.

These four characters – two artists: one who paints on canvas in a studio and one who draws on a sketchpad on the street, an art critic and a college professor – seem to embody all the strengths and all the weaknesses in the struggle that is life for each of us. They are so powerful and so driven and so very human. It is a story told by and about formidable women that touches something vulnerable and passionate in everyone.

There are moments of great joy and humor in this wonderful play, and ultimately its message is one of redemption and possibilities. The tears we shed as the actors bow are because this is Mark Medoff’s final play. The nearly 40 plays he wrote in his lifetime will continue to be produced and his message will always resonate, but there will be no more original works by the favorite son we cherish so much and miss so dearly.

Mike Cook may be reached at mike@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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