You can read Jay Gabler's full review of The Awakening that appeared in the Twin Cities Daily Planet here...
...and here are some juicy excerpts:
"Though I'm used to seeing shows in small venues, every so often I see a show that's so accomplished and absorbing that it's a little astonishing when a scene ends and there's only a small spattering of applause, rather than the thunder you hear at the Guthrie or the Orpheum. The entrancing Awakening being presented by Savage Umbrella and 3AM Productions at Gremlin Theatre is just such a show. It's tart and beautiful and funny and free—the perfect show for this capricious, long-awaited spring."
"It's a premiere production of a script by Laura Leffler-McCabe, who also directed, with music composed by Candy Bilyk and performed by a graceful trio of instrumentalists with singing by the cast...and it's captured brilliantly by the performances, the music, and Justin Hooper's inventive set design."
"Bilyk's music for The Awakening is dark, complex, and thorny. It's often pretty to listen to, but it's never easy listening: as was the case in the music composers like Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss were writing in Kate Chopin's time, Bilyk's melodies are elliptical and challenge the ear's expectations about tonal structures and chord progressions. It's hauntingly apt for this story of a woman who longs to break free of social strictures."
"The production is deeply stocked with memorable performances—among them Alexis Clarksean as a lonely woman who speaks in riddles but knows that the right person would catch her drift, Lacey Piotter as a friend who has her own ideas about what's good for Edna, and John Zeiler as Edna's father in a turn that would steal a lesser show—but (Sarah) Teich is the show's linchpin, and she holds fast. The script does not paint Edna as a particularly likable character: she neglects her children, she's rude to her friends, and she entertains suitors despite the fact that her husband, for all their differences, sincerely adores and remains devoted to her. Still, Teich wins our empathy with a brave and nuanced performance; we see her character's complexity, and we feel her pain."
"The Awakening is an amazing show: it had me on the edge of my seat, and on multiple occasions wanting to jump out of it with cheers. "Critics are so cynical," someone said to me after reading my negative review of The Wizard of Oz. I mean, how can you not love The Wizard of Oz? It's because when you're a critic, you see a lot of shows—which means, luckily, that every once in a while you get to see a show like The Awakening, and you see just how rewarding theater can be."