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THEATER REVIEW: “Waving Goodbye” is a hit for New Village Arts Theatre

“What’s the point of creating a moment, if it just disappears?” asks 17-year-old Lily (Rachael VanWormer), daughter of sculptor Amanda (Kristianne Kurner) and mountain climber Jonathan Blue (Jeffrey Jones).

Lily knows a little about disappearing: Amanda, an unintentional mother at 19, left to pursue her career when Lily was five. A budding photographer of some talent, Lily has lived all her life in this disintegrating New York City loft in her dad’s legal care.

But dad’s frequent climbing expeditions have left Lily alone much of the time, and only her acerbic godmother, art gallery owner and mom’s longtime friend Perry Marshall (Amanda Morrow), has consistently been there for her.

It is Perry who answers Lily’s question: “Art is immediately about the past ... As soon as it’s done, it’s done. That’s why we’re always looking for the Next Big Thing.”

Jamie Pachino, a bright new star in the playwriting firmament, gives us an exhilarating play about art, love, loss and trust in “Waving Goodbye,” playing through Feb. 6 at New Village Arts Theatre.

The only big thing Lily lacks is family stability, but she is muddling through with the help of Perry and new friend H. Bogsworth Barry (Kyle Lucy), aka Boggy. A shy but clever child of wealth, Boggy has a clear crush on Lily, and amuses us and her with goofy riddles such as: “What happened to the man refinishing the flagpole? He varnished into thin air.”

But when a climbing accident brings Amanda back into her life, Lily (who had previously told her mother, “I don’t want you to feel bad. I just want you to go away”) and her mother must find ways to reconnect through the tears and anger of the last decade.

Dana Case directs this lovely, lyrical but tricky time-shifting piece – requiring a dual-level set and the liberal use of three ladders – with a sure hand and a fine eye for stage pictures.

She’s been blessed with a terrific cast. Jones is great and steady as a rock as “mountain man” Jonathan; Kurner by turns delightful and annoying as the charm of new love turns to annoyance, brittleness and finally desertion.

Lucy’s Boggy is both a delight and a great foil for Van Wormer’s wounded bird Lily, stronger than she thinks she is but perhaps not strong enough to trust again.

And Morrow’s Perry is a hoot, imperious, hilarious, biting and strangely comforting almost all at once. I’d love a godmother as fascinating as this one.

Pachino’s characters are all “hunting the light,” as Amanda the teenager puts it. It’s lovely that the search is so poetic, charming and thought-provoking.

The details

“Waving Goodbye” plays through Feb. 6 at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State Street in Carlsbad.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees Saturday at 3 and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For tickets, call (760) 433-3245 or visit www.NewVillageArts.org.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.