The Hippo


May 19, 2019








Nashua Theatre Guild presents Warmth of the Cold. Photo by Leslii Stevens.

 Warmth of the Cold

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua
When: Friday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $15 

Weathering life
Nashua Theatre Guild produces drama by local playwright



By Angie Sykeny

Warmth of the Cold, an original play by Nashua playwright Lowell Williams and winner of the 2006 New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Original Play, returns to the stage for the first time in nearly 10 years Friday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Sept. 30, in Nashua, produced by the Nashua Theatre Guild.  
Set in winter in 1990s Berlin, New Hampshire, the play follows Carol and her teenaged children Robby and Samantha seven years after their husband and father, Hal, was killed in a truck accident. Plagued by financial hardship, as is the rest of the town, and haunted, literally, by the ghost of Hal, the family struggles to move forward and reestablish its identity. Carol still talks to Hal and appears to have gone mad, Robby feels stuck and Samantha, who is offered a college scholarship, wonders if she can leave her mother and brother behind. 
“There’s a personal story and an arc for each of the characters, including the father, even though he’s dead,” said Williams, who is also directing the play. “It’s deep, complicated and emotional stuff.” 
Williams has written many plays, but this production of Warmth of the Cold is only the second time he has directed one of his own plays. 
“I think it takes a deft hand to direct it, and I was afraid to give it to someone else who might not understand what it’s about,” he said. 
When actor Doreen Sheppard, who is playing Carol, first read the script, she was drawn to the complexity of Carol’s character. 
“She seems a little weird, like she’s not a real person. It’s almost unrealistic, like a melodrama, but when you really look at all the things she’s doing and thinking and feeling, it makes sense,” Sheppard said. “As an actor, finding a character like that to unravel is gold.” 
The show is mostly dialogue-driven, and the little action that does happen involves Robby and Samantha more than it does Carol, so it has been a challenge, Sheppard said, to play Carol in a way that doesn’t make her seem one-dimensional. 
“She’s inside her own head and doesn’t move around a lot, so I really have to use posture and facial expressions to show the audience what she’s feeling, and to make sure she doesn’t just seem like a blob on stage,” she said. 
To get inside the mind of Carol, Sheppard reflected on how she and the women she knows cope with life transitions like having an empty nest or losing a spouse. She concluded that, while Carol “seems like a crazy lady on paper,” the character is actually quite relatable. 
“You think she might be a little mentally or emotionally ill, but really, she’s just a woman who is profoundly sad and confused and completely unprepared for this next step in her life,” Sheppard said. “The things she thinks and feels are the same as most people would; it just comes out in a different way for everyone.” 
The setting, winter in particular, also plays a big part in the play, and that is reflected in the set. Williams said he doesn’t want to give too much away, but that the production has a “big team of [set] designers” and “an elaborate set design.” 
“The weather acts as another character in the play. That’s why the title is Warmth of the Cold,” he said. “In fact, the play is as much about the place as it is about the characters. Despite it being so difficult to live there, it never occurs to Carol to leave. It’s her home.” 
Although the play does tackle some heavy subject matter, Sheppard said “it’s not as bleak as it might sound.” 
“There is redemption in the end for everyone, and I think people need to know that,” she said. “The characters do move forward in their own ways.” 

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