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Charles Mee's Wintertime

            The Long Wharf Theatre production of Charles Mee's Wintertime is a perfect example of the effectiveness of design elements in a play. In addition to playing a practical role in the production, both the set and costume design suggest themes and metaphors seen throughout the play. It sets the various moods and helps the audience relate to the characters" positions. .
             Before the action even begins, the audience is aware of the setting: a cozy cabin furnished with large furniture, fuzzy blankets, and rugs. Glasses of champagne hint that romance is in the air. Outside the cabin is a forest of white winter trees, which gives the cabin the appearance of being far from life's troubles. The lights are low, which adds warmth, despite the light snow falling against a black sky. At this point in the show, the design gives off a calm, placid feeling of comfort, which is enhanced by the soft background music. It perfectly creates the situation for Jonathan to propose to Ariel, and the audience has no trouble getting lost in the moment of love and happiness. .
             However, once Jonathan's parents and their respective lovers arrive, the lights flared up, and the mood changes dramatically. As jealousy and anger replace the characters" romantic frames of mind, the visual aspects of the show take on a new meaning. The cabin walls seem confining, in sharp contrast to the sense of coziness they initially offered. No longer does the snow and darkness feel peaceful; instead, these elements add to the feelings of hostility and coldness between those in the cabin. As the characters ostracize each other with every argument, they become associated with the tall, bare trees standing far apart from each other. These pieces of the set represent the loneliness the characters are feeling at the time. .
             The set design proves to be very flexible throughout the first act. In the last scene, the props onstage help the actors visually create a sense of chaos and despair.

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