Wheeler is low key, but appealing, donning Johnny's persona like a comfortable sweater. He gradually peels back layers to reveal an unexpected strength of character, especially in the way he stands up to the glowering Edward and sets boundaries with Julia. There's too much acting visible in Act One by most of The Players, but they tone it down in the second and third act, trusting the characters to show their stripes naturalistically. In subtle ways, Dunn replaces the love struck Julia of the opening scenes with a practical daddy's girl. Davin is the master of bluster, and Bolton and Peed look like they're having lots of fun, even as they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Sarah Barton is feisty in the role of Delia, the maid.
Holiday is a product of its time, but a couple of factors make it interesting and relevant. When Barry wrote it, he couldn't know about the cataclysmic financial crash that would soon occur. As Johnny talks about his plans to live off the money he is accruing in the stock market in January, 1929, our knowledge of what was to happen in October of that year informs our experience of the play and, perhaps, influences our response to how he wants to live his life. The other dynamic at work is the economic realities we face in 2013 and the impact they have on our choices and priorities. Who wouldn't want to retire young and live an examined life, if the money was there? Johnny seems to have figured out that one's genuine life is worth living, with or without the money.
Photo credit: David Costa (Lewis Wheeler, Marge Dunn)