I’m not sure what a windfall is exactly, but after seeing Windfall Jelly, I’m interpreting it as being synonymous with the lemons that life sometimes hands to you. The Van Leuwen family, whom this show is about, certainly receives lots of lemons this harvest…in fact, way too many lemons. many lemons that the plot ends up filled with cheesy dramatic theatrical stereotypes. The script falls short, lacking the believability needed for family drama, and the profundity that writer and director Eleanor Crowder seems to have been attempting to achieve. Though Windfall Jelly has a few interesting scenic moments and some good acting, it is really not worth the 40 minutes that it takes to end the show by having the characters stand in a line and say its’ title in unison.
The show follows a family who lives on an apple orchard, as Charlie (Will Somers) and Jocelyn (Anna Lewis) fight because he has to fix their roof on their anniversary and she wants to leave him because of it. While this is happening, Charlie’s mom (Rachel Eugster) is making apple jelly before the apples rot. Crowder attempts to transition to each new scene by including information about a different step in making jelly: characters move around and layer specific words relating to each step. This got very repetitive and annoying, especially considering there are many transitions between the many short scenes. There are a few well executed moments, such as when Ash (Emma Ferrante) performs a monologue in the audience with the house lights up. Ultimately, however, the direction simply manages to highlight the flaws in the script.
The technical design for this show is quite good – the large thunderstorm at the end was well executed with light and sound. The props are also very cool, as some of them such as an umbrella, the jelly pot, and the jelly jars at the end had lights hidden on them to create a glow and some interesting shadows. The rooftop set is also very well done. It is made of pine, displaying the corner of a roof and the top of a ladder; it was interesting to get the different height levels on stage. Even with these elements though, Windfall Jelly falls short with its cheesy plot and flawed structure.
Presented by Bear & Co.
Written and Directed by Eleanor Crowder
Also Starring William Beddoe and Tim Oberholzer
Set and Light Design by Pierre Ducharme
Playing at the Arts Court Theater