Frozen Phoenix Theatre Directed by Michael Brown Through March 27 Frozen — the name depicts many things, from the chilling events that unfold in this play, to the state of inertia when one can’t move beyond one moment, as in “frozen in time.” This is just one example of the layered meanings within Frozen, a Broadway production that has found its way to the Phoenix Theatre.
Dian Kondrat and LeBron Benton in the Phoenix Theatre's regional premiere of 'Frozen'
Rhona is the central character, but she has no physical presence in the play. The 10-year-old was abducted by Ralph (LeBron Benton), sexually abused and then murdered. Her mother, Nancy (Martha Jacobs), begins a 20-year crusade as an activist for children — but seems to forget about Ingrid, her other, older daughter. Tying the obscure knot into the weave is Agnetha (Diane Kondrat), whose thesis on serial killers brings her to England — the home of the murderer and murdered — and into Ralph’s prison. Ralph, Nancy and Agnetha are haunted with their individual specters from the past and, by the end of the show, some sort of closure comes to each one of them. The trio of Benton, Jacobs and Kondrat are a powerhouse of grit and emotion. In the hands of Jacobs, the play becomes overwhelming (literally — audience members were crying), while Benton creates the devil we all fear in the subtly insane pedophile who wishes it were legal to kill little girls. Kondrat, so like an Everyman, is the one the audience can grab hold of for this ride into hell. Each gives a performance like few I have seen on local stages — awesome in their scope and sublime in the currents that flow through them. Atmosphere is dark and ice-like, thanks to scenic designer James Gross, and lighting plays an especially important role in creating a feeling, done up by lighting designer Laura E. Glover. Director Michael Brown, a founding member of ShadowApe Theatre Company, pulls it all together with finesse. The Underground is still set up cabaret-style (as it was for Phoenix’s last show, Blown Sideways Through Life), so arrive early. British accents are hard to grasp at first, but as the play wears on they become more manageable. Try not to sit in the middle, as there is a central spotlight that ticks annoyingly, but once you figure out what’s making that noise, it is easy to ignore. Frozen continues at the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave., through March 27; call 635-PLAY.