VENICE — Playing a round of golf, four senior citizens — Griff (Steve Black), Milt (John Lemon), Larkin (Drew Washburn) and Ned (Jim Manns) — talk about life and death in “Golf With Alan Shepard” at Venice Theatre.
In the background is the moon, which is stunning for its texture and its colors. Below is the golf course with a tee area and some greens, golf bags and such for the geriatric foursome with memories to share and, in one player’s bag, a mysterious box.
Once again, set designer Tim Wisgerhoff has aced the set.
The foursome includes Griff, the ultimate curmudgeon; Ned who seems the happiest yet dealing with the recent loss of his wife; Larkin, a former priest who is still tending his flock and Milt, who may be the most troubled of all as he tries to deal with the loss of his brother.
Directed by Brad Wages, these four actors are people we all know or have known, dealing with life and, sadly, death (both recent and also in their own future).
A fifth actor who is heard but not seen is Jack Rabito (on the microphone).
The moon is crucial to the story, which was inspired by the first man on the moon — Alan Shepard. That Shepard hit two long shots with an improvised six iron on the moon is said to have inspired this play by Carter Lewis.
Ross Boehringer only needed to outfit four golfers and Shepard — mostly plaid pants and a space suit. Pretty basic stuff, although finding a madras plaid hat and matching pants might have been as difficult as crafting a space suit suitable for putting a man on the moon.
Boehringer succeeded on all counts.
Lighting by John Andzulis and sound by Nate Bleiweiss proved more than adequate. Taking the technical side of the production over the top was the click of the club connecting with the ball on every shot.
Consider that there were no real golf balls in this show, lest someone in the audience be hit. Yet, after the golfer puts an imaginary ball on an imaginary tee and then makes his shot, we hear that click denoting a good drive or gentle putt.
Yes — every time.
Keeping track of all these bits and pieces is stage manager Jessie Choate, whose experience in other theaters showed in this production.
Next to all this technical perfection in the Raymond Center is the story of four older golfers, their memories, their losses and their friendships in an age that gave us rock and roll, the space race, computers and more.