Round House's season of adaptations continues with the story of Sibyl Danforth, a lay midwife in remote Vermont.
Retired early from this career and undergoing her own medical treatment for cancer, Sibyl (played by MaryBeth Wise) revisits in memory
the events surrounding one of her last cases: the home birth of parents Charlotte and Asa Bedford.
When Charlotte (Kimberly Parker Green) experiences complications to her extended labor and the Bedford house is cut off by a sudden ice storm, Sibyl (believing that Charlotte has died) executes a procedure of last resort, an impromptu Caesarean section with a kitchen knife.
Charlotte's Sibyl's ruminations—did I do everything I could for Charlotte? had she expired or did I kill her?—that provide the engine of this story.
Flashbacks to the fatal morning are interlayered with testimony from Sibyl's manslaughter trial (at which she was acquitted), and it's a neat touch that Charlotte speaks the words of the trial judge, her voice amplified with a body mic.
But, in some patches in Act 2, the script labors to escape the static courtroom scenes.
James Kronzer's set is up to his high standards: a warm-toned room framed by a scrim serves as the only playing area. It's backed by a cold tangle of bare trees rimed by ice, which is revealed at the act break. A nifty device (magnetic?) magically pivots a hospital bed into multiple positions without the visible intervention of crew.
Martin Desjardins' deceptively tricky sound design (lots of actors coming on and off mic within a scene) includes a pitch-perfect rendition of freezing rain.
Among the cast, Stephanie Burden as Sibyl's daughter Connie (an obstetrics medical student) seems more comfortable, oddly, in her flashback scenes when she's playing a youngster than when she's playing her natural age.
Lynn Steinmetz gives us a salty hospital nurse who's seen it all, medically and otherwise. And Rana Kay triples as a hippie mother and client of Sibyl's, a fast-talking gumshoe, and Sibyl's mousy and devout apprentice Anne Austin.