Remember 12?

Those moments that flashed by and evaporated before you could savor them? And the ones that went on and on, filling you with breathless agony as you watched time stand still when all you wanted was it to disappear?

Those moments are felt with heartbreaking honesty by Daria Berg, who plays the pre-teen Frankie in Arizona Onstage Productions’ moving “The Member of the Wedding.” It opened Friday at the Cabaret Theatre.

Frankie is a tomboy caught between the world of adolescence and young adulthood in Carson McCullers’ play, which McCullers’ adapted from her 1946 book of the same name.

Slightly older girls shun Frankie — she’s too young for them. She loves her cousin John Henry, but he’s too young — 6 — and often too annoying for her. And she adores her brother, Jarvis, and his soon-to-be- wife, Janice. Frankie is sure they’ll let her go off with them when they marry. They can be, she says, “the we of me.”

Giving her guidance throughout her painful longings is her nanny Berenice. Berenice is black. She knows what it is to not belong, to feel shunned.

Carol Calkins obviously has a reverence for the material, and infuses this production with a sense of wonder and desperation.

She also makes sure that  the great heart that is in the book and play is evident in this production.

In addition to Berg, this play belongs to Carley Preston, a stoic, funny, and full-of-compassion Berenice, and James Cockrell, the amusing and irresistible John Henry.

The three of them show the same love of the material, and the same deep understanding of it, that Calkins has.

But it was 13-year-old Berg who really was remarkable. Her character was hysterical with excitement and fantasies one moment and the next, inconsolable that nothing, nothing good was ever going to happen to her.  Watch her at the end of the first act, as she rocks in Berenice’s arms, softly crying. And bring a hankie.

Arizona Onstage’s “The Member of the Wedding” is a quiet play with a big, big impact.  And one that shouldn’t be missed.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.

 

review

“The Member of the Wedding”

• Playwright: Carson

McCullers.

• Presented by: Arizona

Onstage Productions.

• Director: Carol Calkins.

• When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and next Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday and May 1.

• Where: Cabaret Theatre at the Temple of Music & Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

• Tickets: $27.50 regular performances. Discounts available.

• Reservations/information: www.arizonaonstage.org, 882-6574 or

1-800-838-3006.

• Running time: About 2 hours, with one intermission.