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Sunday, 23rd February 2020

Winter – Defining What Is Living

Ana Pines
Keep N Touch

Ana Pines

Founder/Writer/Photographer/Entrepreneur. Often the only queer person of color at media events. You can't miss me! Want a different perspective, feel free to reach out and I'll be there.
Ana Pines
Keep N Touch

The Central Works Rolling World Premiere of Winter by Julie Jensen and directed by Gary Graves, has been extended until August 20. The central theme of the play explores the polarizing topic of whether or not one has the right to die on their own terms. It was inspired by the chapter “Robeck”, in Margaret Pabst Battin’s book, “Ending Life: Ethics & the Way We Die”.

Annis (Phoebe Moyer* ), with husband Robeck (Randall Nakano*) Photo by Jim Norrena

Annis (Phoebe Moyer*), with husband Robeck (Randall Nakano*) Photo by: Jim Norrena

Annis (Phoebe Moyer) is beginning to show the symptoms of what appears to be a type of dementia. Once a brilliant writer, she now can’t remember basic things and has black out type moments. The audience experiences these confusing episodes with rapid light changes and a distracting audio track. We see Annis get a blank look in her eye and then, she snaps out of it. Her self-awareness leads her to make the personal decision, it’s her time to die.

Her husband Robeck (Randall Nakano) is going through his own struggles as he’s being pushed out of his job at the University. She tells him about her discomfort but he dismisses it. It appears to be out of his own distress in dealing with ageing and the solitude that can come with it. They have a pact but for him, it’s not time.

As if individual struggles weren’t enough, they have two sons who fight about which one of them knows what’s best for their parents. Her younger son Evan (Steve Budd) has already had conversations with them and promised his full support. In his opinion, it’s their life and they can do what they want with it.

The eldest son Roddy (John Patrick Moore) becomes suspicious after Annis boxes up items of old stuff to give to each of them. He digs through their paperwork and other boxes that are packed up to find clues. He begins to question Evan, who vaguely admits their parents might be up to something. Roddy gets furious as he believes they should be ‘saved’ from themselves and be put in a home. He wants to control the situation as long as he has to do none of the work of actually caring for them.

Evan (Steve Budd) and his niece, LD (Julie Kuwabara). Photo by Jim Norrena

Evan (Steve Budd) and his niece, LD (Julie Kuwabara).
Photo by Jim Norrena

Annis reveals her plans to her granddaughter LD (Julie Kuwabara), who becomes key to carrying out her plan. She creates a secret code that only her granddaughter will understand. Even though she expresses her full support for her grandmother’s decision she still makes her promise that now is not the “right time”.

Moyer did a great job displaying the vulnerability and strength that her character has. Annis knows what’s coming for her and made a decision for herself influenced by her experience. But, the interference of family members makes you wonder; what is living? Is having a heartbeat living when you can’t function the way you feel your best and/or remember who you are? Do we live for ourselves or others? Is there a point where we don’t know what’s best for ourselves? It’s hard to not be touched by this thought-provoking show. 

Extended and must close August 20
The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley.
Performances: Thurs, Fri & Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 5 pm
Prices: $30 online at, $30–$15 sliding scale at the door.
Thursdays are pay-what-you-can at the door.
Tickets:  510.558.1381 or