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Full Bloom

In downtown Bloomington, behind a modest storefront at three-twelve south Washington there's the small theatre of the Bloomington Playwrights Project. Plays grow and develop there in a variety of ways. Some are incubated right in the room and may appear like newly hatched birds, still barely walking and wet from the egg. Some are newly fledged and flap their way uneasily around. Others have already had some flying experience and both dart and soar.

Suzanne Bradbeer's play "Full Bloom" definitely soars. It has already been workshopped. In fact it was produced in part as a New Harmony project. I think that it is safe to say that while it is up and flying, some adjustments still may come about. Perhaps some from the nicely mounted and enjoyable production directed by Brian G. Harz that opened this past weekend.

"Full Bloom" is the story of someone who's half a girl and half a woman and who's trying to figure out how to be a whole person. It's about coming of age and also about aging. Phoebe, played by Sarah Baskin, is a sixteen-year old girl who lives in New York City. She talks directly to the audience about what she does and doesn't understand. She's had her first mostly innocent love affair and also her first non-innocent, non-love affair. She's sensitive about her independence and dependence and painful uncomfortable about being watched at this delicate time of her life. She's thoughtful, and as played by Baskin, a good talker.

Phoebe's mother, played by Joss Marsh, is intelligent and well meaning, but full of her own problems with aging. She has a husband who has left her for a woman nearly half her age. She's becoming a single woman again and facing some of the same dating fears that her daughter has.

Phoebe's neighbors Jim the firefighter, played with warmth by Benji Loudermilk, and his wife Crystal the actress, played with a good deal of energetic comedy by Maria Dahman, are perhaps too involved with Phoebe as the daughter they were never able to have. Jim's problem with age is that he's uncomfortable dealing with the developing woman that Phoebe is becoming. Crystal, as an actress, is dealing with the age dilemma professionally, by having plastic surgery.

In the midst of all this there is one character who seems a litmus test for the whole cast. Spencer Hutchinson was a very attractive figure as Jesse Williams, a new kid in Phoebe's class. Jesse seems to be at least relatively normal. Attractive, but normal. Maybe it's because amidst all these New Yorkers, he's from Minneapolis.

Suzanne Bradbeer's coming of age drama, "Full Bloom," plays at the Bloomington Playwrights Project theatre Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at eight and Sundays at two through November eleventh.

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