Theater Review: ‘Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess’

Ben Miles

Abbie Burgess Grant has been the subject of children’s books, such as “keep the Lights Burning, Abby,” by Peter and Connie Roop and an illustrated children’s book titled “Abby, Against the Storm,” written by Marcia Vaughan, with illustrations by Bill Farnsworth. The U.S. Coast Guard honored Abby Burgess Grant by naming a ship after the stalwart teen.

Now this heroine’s courageous efforts fulfilling duties, in her father Samuel’s unavoidable absence, as the Matinicus Rock Lighthouse Keeper in the state of Maine during the tumultuous storm of 1856 is now immortalized in a world premiere production of playwright Jenny Connell Davis’s “Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess.” Furthermore it’s the Chance Theater’s first ever commissioned play.

“Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess” is impressively performed by Aubrey Saverino. Ms. Saverino is the sole performer on stage for the entire 90 minute length of this drama. Given the credibility of this performance and the sheer line load contained in Ms. Davis’s script, Ms. Saverino’s performance embodies the very meaning of tour de force. With nuance and unflagging commitment to character and script, Ms. Saverino’s performance is charming, emotionally charged and engaging.

Not only is the audience offered a compelling history lesson in “Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess,”

The directorial eye of Katie Chidester ensures the genuineness of the drama, infused with lighthearted moments amidst the dire challenges brought forth by Mother Nature’s unyielding gale forces.

What’s more, the timing and pacing of this not so weathered tale about of a once-in-a-century storm is greatly aided by the indispensable sound design of Oscar Garcia, scenic/lighting and period perfect costume designs by Chris Quick, as well as the historic accuracy ensured by the meticulous dramaturgy credited to Jenny Jacobs.

Prepare to be blown over by “Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess.”

What: “Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess”

Where: Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts center on the Fyda-Mar Stage, 5522 East La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92807

When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. through June 4

More Information: www.ChanceTheater.com or phone (714) 455-4212

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