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Preston Lane and Laurelyn Dossett score again with Radiunt Abundunt

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by Lenise Willis

There are two sides to every story, including the picture behind the painting. When it comes to art, it can be interpreted in so many ways, almost making its storytelling abilities limitless. Exploring the many angles of art, perception, religion and family is the Triad Stage original Radiunt Abundunt, by Preston Lane and Laurelyn Dossett.

The world-premiere drama opens with an art professor lecturing the audience like her classroom of students on the perception of art and her first-hand experience with an undiscovered, uneducated, and yet remarkable artist and self-proclaimed disciple Mother Radiunce.

The story then begins to unfold, or rather is painted. The set is made up of a floor completely covered by dull cardboard and a white backdrop, made up of a few large, oblong shapes behind, above and to the sides of the stage. The set, designed by Anya Klepikov, acts as the malleable white canvas for colorful projections, designed by Nicholas Hussong.

The set and projection designs were incredible, and truly brought the character’s paintings to life, and made them bigger than life. The design alone is worth going to see the play.

At times the audience watches the character, on a ladder, paint the projections right on the backdrop. At other times, the projections add movement to the characters’ memories. They were beautiful, giant fiery teardrops raining down a night sky. A row of angels looking down. A home, consumed by flames, with a single set of hands reaching out the window.

The music and lyrics by Laurelyn Dossett gave voice to the paintings as we watched them sweep across the backdrop. Dossett gave power to the images through song. The onstage band, with a banjo, bass, violin and guitar, told the stories of Judas, the Angel of Grace, the Sparrow’s Incantation, and most importantly the Vision and the Call. Their soothing melody added a sense of calm to the stage.

The story was just as intriguing as the set and score. This untrained artist, viewed as a genius by an art scholar, was more preoccupied with doing God’s will and painting His sermons than earning fame and fortune. Meanwhile, her long-lost family whom she inevitably abandoned is more concerned with hiding her sickness and the family’s painful secrets from the world. There’s a strain between art and religion, religion and family, right and wrong, and beauty and ugliness.

Kate Goehring, performing as Mother Radiunce, did a wonderful job of portraying a very complicated artist, one who left her daughter and burning home to roam a valley and paint the Word. In contrast to a seemingly dedicated and aspirational, yet sick soul, was Scottie Pritchett, performed by Dori Legg. Legg’s performance added a welcome comic relief. Legg, playing as Mother Radiunce’s sister who stayed behind to care for her daughter, brought to life the loveable down-home humor, fashion sense and simple lifestyle of country folk.

Overall, the original play beautifully ties together the bold texture of paint, the contagious rhythm of song and the intrigue of acting into one story of hope and pain. It’s sad; it’s funny; it’s thought provoking, and it has a touch of something for everyone. !

WANNA go?

Triad Stage presents the original Radiunt Abundunt this week through March 13 at The Pyrle Theatre, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets are $10-$50 depending on day and seating. For tickets or more information call 272-0160 or visit triadstage.org.

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