(Adoption and Roulette)

Sometimes fact makes fiction look like child’s play, and thus we come to our review of Adoption Roulette, a play based on a story that helped bring the Russian Adoption Corruption to a crashing halt.

Based on Elizabeth Fuller’s facts, she and Broadway writer, actor and director Joel Vig have written a spine-chilling story of an adoption gone horribly wrong. Elizabeth is not an intern in the world of the arts She has authored 10 books, is a former contributor to the New York Times and has also written several plays, one of which is currently being prepped for Broadway.

FACT:   Elizabeth and her husband decided to adopt a daughter from Russia. The nightmare that followed sent her husband fleeing back to America and drove Elizabeth to near insanity. Her collaboration with Joel Vig has led to an evening of almost unbelievable truth.

The play, a production presented by the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company is a tightly crafted cold stage event without props or other stage devices that seem to echo the Russian winter. A cast of three, two of whom play multiple roles reveal the truth in acting that comes to life when there are no crutches to lean on.

Yo Younger portrays Elizabeth as the mother in-waiting who refuses to believe that they are having a mentally/emotionally disabled child forced on them, despite the “bad seed” child who nearly destroys her life before she finally abandons the attempted adoption, escaping to the American Embassy mere steps ahead of her Russian pursuers who have confiscated her passport.

Fergus Loughnane (Broadway actor par excellence) essays several roles: frustrated husband Reuel, Delta Pilot, Igor, Flight Attendant and Agency Official. Reuel is skeptical from the beginning when he learns that they will be required to cough up $30,000 to the Russian Adoption agency and be required to make two round trips by air to Moscow plus fees and costs for every step they make inside Russia which adds up to more than the original investment. He loves his wife so much that he tolerates her obsession to become a mother until he can no longer stand the punishment and fraud being perpetrated against them. He flies back to America, hoping that his spouse will soon see the evils of the Russian Adoption System, give up her dream and return to a safe and sane existence in her home country.

The third member of the cast, Adina Lawson also plays several roles; Marion, Dianne, Lois, Olenka, Nurse Blatovsky, Russian Judge and Spokesman. One soon forgets who she really is since her change is not only in costume but in a total chameleon-like persona changes to fit the role in a split-second’s notice.

This two act tour de force takes place in the winter of 2004 with scenes situated in Weston, Connecticut; Moscow; Vovoysa, and an orphanage near the Siberian Border.

Director Shawn Abramowitz and his intern associate director Cameron Keys keep the pace running like a do or die marathon. The only props are several black blocks that serve as tables, chairs and other uses, but never get in the way of the actors which adds to the cold stark theme of the play. The theater’s new lighting system is used to laser-like perfection in this dark stark forest of a stage, taking us through the cruel Russian terrain.

Joel Vig and Elisabeth Fuller garner special recognition for the manner in which they bring reality to the world of make believe and make it as real as it actually happened.

We don’t normally review out of town productions, but this is a community project that has a story to tell with all the right people, on the right stage at a time when we can use some serious detraction from the daily news. Just sayin’

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