Set on a dock surrounded by a wooded lake, Serenbe Playhouse’s world premiere of Tira Palmquist’s Ten Mile Lake easily transports the audience into the time and place of the story. Directed by Alexander Greenfield, the drama includes a trio of Atlanta’s top talent.
After years of being separated from her difficult father, Maggie (Veronika Duerr) returns home after her father’s caregiver (Bryan Brendle) sends her an urgent email about her father (Mark Kincaid). The tension mounts from the beginning as the two work to rekindle their lost relationship.
As soon as Maggie storms onto the dock, the familial tug of war takes center stage. A former military officer, her father can be blunt and commands discipline, but behind the tough façade is a caring father that is proud of the woman his daughter has become.
Known for both her comedic and dramatic abilities, Duerr continues to show her versatility. She brings a sense of cautioned rebellion to the role. While her scenes as the older Maggie are good, the vulnerability she displays as the younger character is most compelling.
On the other hand, Kincaid’s best scenes as Howard are when he plays the present day character. During these moments, he commands the audience’s attention and induces sympathy for a man that at first does nothing to make you want to feel sorry for him.
Played admirably by Kincaid and Duerr, the father and daughter pair is limited by the script’s reliance on tension to move the plot along and provide exposition. Palmquist has crafted a thin narrative that becomes jumbled with flashbacks (which are staged beautifully by Greenfield), and the predicable outcome isn’t satisfying.
While the two main characters are a bit cliché, Donny, the home caregiver, and his relationship with Maggie isn’t explored enough. Brendle creates a strong, forceful personality that contrasts with the others on the stage, and his character’s relationship with Maggie is ultimately more intriguing than the relationship she has with her father.
Jason Sherwood’s set makes use of the natural setting well. It is a simplistic dock out on the lake, but it is that plainness that allows the story to draw in the audience. Not many productions can stage a production where when the script calls for an actor to jump in the lake, he actually can.
Serenbe Playhouse’s world premiere of Ten Mile Lake runs through June 29, 2014 at the Grange Lake dock. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s run time is around an hour and a half without an intermission.
– Kenny Norton