Auctioning the Ainsleys at People’s Light depicts a family of auctioneers who are facing change, letting go of material objects and confronting personal fears. It is a show that reminds us that memories are woven into the items we hold onto. It is a well-crafted play under the direction of Abigail Adams, the play combines comedy and tragedy to create a story of retrospection. Auctioning the Ainsleys is intelligent and witty, and it explores how possessions can define our lives.
Auctioning the Ainsleys is a play by Laura Schellhardt, and it is the regional premiere of this production. The play is smartly written and the story quickly moves from being humorous one moment and incredibly emotional the next. Auctioning the Ainsleys revolves around the matriarch, Alice Ainsley, who is losing her memory, and she desires to record her family history. What I found intriguing about this story is how Alice’s memories are tied to objects, and once the memory related to an item disappears the object is no longer visible to the audience. It really helps tie the notion of how certain memories are tied to objects, and with the use of the set designed by Luke Hegel-Cantarella and props by Sarah Pierce, this idea is highlighted throughout the show.
Playing the role of Alice is Carla Belver. It is always a pleasure to see Belver onstage, and she is excellent in this role. What Belver does well is delivers a performance through which the audience can feel her despair as she is slowly losing her memories. There are moments that are heartbreaking to watch, such as when Alice has a grasp on a certain memory and then all of a sudden she can no longer remember what the story is that is associated with the object. Mary Elizabeth Scallen plays the eldest daughter, Avery. Scallen opens the show with an amazing dialogue that is a mile-a-minute auction patter. Avery is strong-willed and a fierce protector. Scallen delivers a strong performance, and brings out the humor and intelligence of her character. Portraying Annalee, the daughter who keeps to her office and sells the stories behind the objects, is Terri Lamm. Lamm has some incredibly funny moments, but there are also moments where her dialogue turns incredibly sincere. Lamm handles these transitions with ease. Julianna Zinkel plays Amelia, the daughter who is in charge of grouping individual items into auction lots. Zinkel brings out Amelia’s compassionate nature, and gives a strong performance as this tender-hearted sibling. Playing the only son in the Ainsley family, Aiden, is Jesse Pennington. Pennington is animated, and he skillfully shows Aiden’s distaste for clutter through his lively performance. Rounding out this cast is Brian Lee Huynh, who plays Arthur, the young man who Alice hires to write down her family history. Huynh is charming as Arthur, and he exudes compassion as he helps this family come together and deal with their anger and emotional issues.
Auctioning the Ainsleys runs at People’s Light through November 8, 2015. For more information and tickets visit their website at peopleslight.org or call their box office at 610-644-3500.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin
Final Thought: Auctioning the Ainsleys at People’s Light is an honest play that reminds us that memories and the objects that remind us of them hold a special place in our lives. It is a captivating show that is touching, smart and heartwarming.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.