2022 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Etched Glass Decanter’ by Evening Crane Theatre

A beautifully written international production that follows two astronomers on a dark journey through multiple worlds.

Etched Glass Decanter is a highly sophisticated and beautifully written production. Playwright, director, producer, and founder of the Evening Crane Theatre, Michael Seebold, received, among other honors, the Best New Writing award from the Paris Fringe Festival for the play. The script follows two astronomers on a dark journey through multiple worlds.

At first, we see the Astronomer (Reid Watson) in his Observatory. He is hallucinating. He hears the sound of steps. A voice. “Would you like some tea?” We are in the world of Poe, or perhaps Gian Carlo Menotti’s haunting opera, The Medium.

Next we see the Astronomer’s Wife (Leah Schwartz), at their home, playing an invisible piano. Sometimes there is a rush of wind. A mysterious voice. Again, the sound of steps. There are guests upstairs who are ill.

As her husband joins her, it becomes clear that someone is behind the secret panel, and they are both afraid.

The stranger behind the panel turns out to be Izhabel (Shannon McDavid), in a dark shawl with blue highlights. She carries the Etched Glass Decanter, which contains an unknown liquid. She does not know how or why she is there, but she challenges them to drink it.
The sound effects become even more ominous. There is a deep, frightening noise like thunder. The ticking of a clock. A low drumming. Behind the actors, at times, we see their shadows. Purple. Yellow. Green.

The final scene is an otherworldly seascape. The Astronomer and his Wife are joined by Lane M. Jackson as The Blind Dutch Master. He is sketching. They are on a cliff above a vast ocean. There are three yellow islands, the Master explains, where he lost his shoes.
At times, there is a terrifying figure, a man in black with a silver mask, carrying a giant ball (or is it a planet?), across the stage.

The Astronomer and his Wife brave the ocean to explore the islands. There will be many more surprises. First-rate in every way, this international production will surely be a highlight of the Festival.


Running Time: 70 minutes, no intermission.

Etched Glass Decanter plays one more performance at 12 noon July 17, 2022, at  REPRESENTATION – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.

COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.

Genre: Drama
Age appropriateness: Recommended for Children 13 + older

Playwright/Director: Michael Seebold
The Astronomer: Reid Watson
The Astronomer’s Wife: Leah Schwartz
Izhabel: Shannon McDavid
The Blind Dutch Master: Lane McLeod Jackson
Costume Designer: Alyssa Poon
Full production credits, photos, and videos can be found here.

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Sophia Howes
Sophia Howes has been a reviewer for DCTA since 2013 and a columnist since 2015. She has an extensive background in theater. Her play Southern Girl was performed at the Public Theater-NY, and two of her plays, Rosetta’s Eyes and Solace in Gondal, were produced at the Playwrights’ Horizons Studio Theatre. She studied with Curt Dempster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where her play Madonna was given a staged reading at the Octoberfest. Her one-acts Better Dresses and The Endless Sky, among others, were produced as part of Director Robert Moss’s Workshop-NY. She has directed The Tempest, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Monongalia Arts Center, both in Morgantown, WV. She studied Classics and English at Barnard and received her BFA with honors in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Seidman Award for playwriting. Her play Adamov was produced at the Harold Clurman Theater on Theater Row-NY. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Lucille Lortel Award for playwriting. She studied with, among others, Michael Feingold, Len Jenkin, Lynne Alvarez, and Tina Howe.


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