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Non-D

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Beginning with a splinter of an idea -- and inspired by the theme of "beginnings" -- playwright Andrew Irons has crafted a well-structured model of the perfect play. Viewers may not quite know where "Non-D" is going early on in the action, and it's just as well -- the discovery is as thought-provoking and as fun as the destination.

Nor could audience members imagine how much impact a single toothpick can have, both on the lives of the characters in the play and as a persuasive theatrical metaphor. A young man (Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone) uses the tiny wooden objects to build impressive models of scientific proportions. Each intricately shaped design proves to be indestructible -- that is, until a sharp-eyed lass (Sarah Bellows) points out the individual weak links. The inventive pair ends up at a competition sponsored by the American Engineering Association, where participants and other pressures threaten to break apart their fragile friendship.

Irons' situations are fittingly full of ironic twists and turns. The frailties of human relationships, from first meetings to final partings, are eloquently written and staged with sensitive strength by Jessica Davis-Irons. The indelible production definitely makes a case for the power of persistence.

Davis-Irons' cast is impeccable, led by Ellison-Gladstone and Bellows, who speak volumes even when silent. Arthur Aulisl makes the plight of agoraphobia painfully plausible, and Margie Stokley is simply mesmerizing as a young woman caught between love and longing for more.

Set designer Neal Wilkinson works wonders with a white stage framed by detailed borders, and masterfully incorporates colorful touches, thousands of toothpicks, and even raindrops into the stark setting. Becky Lasky reveals character through her costumes, and Brian PJ Cronin is the man behind the stunning sound effects.

Hopefully, this play will find a life after its brief run, and prove as sturdy and solid as the crafted pieces of art it celebrates.

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