Sunday, May 6, 2007
I chose not to see this play at first because the subject sounded too sordid -- a young woman confronting the man who had had a sexual relationship with her when she was 12 and he was 40. I relented, though, and saw it last week after it received three Drama Desk nominations -- Outstanding Play (David Harrower), Outstanding Set Design (Scott Pask) and Outstanding Lighting (Paul Gallo).
As it turns out, I was right -- it is sordid, but it’s also compelling theatre. I had figured I could do my duty as a voter and leave early if my suspicions were correct. I didn’t leave. It was far too riveting.
What baffles me is why our nominating committee overlooked Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill who made this 90-minute drama so intense. It wasn’t the play that did it for me, especially with its depressing ending, it was their command of their roles that kept me in my seat. Neither conveyed one false movement, gesture or expression. Ms. Pill makes Una’s pain heartbreakingly raw and Mr. Daniels is convincingly disgusting as the overweight, middle-aged man who destroyed her life 15 years earlier. These are delicate roles that could have been ruined by overacting or sentimentalizing. Ms. Pill and Mr. Daniels hit just the right notes throughout their tension-filled encounter.
Mr. Pask’s set enhances the atmosphere -- a trash strewn lunchroom in a bland industrial-type building that Una characterizes as the kind of plain, one-story structure people drive by on the highway and wonder what goes on inside. It keeps the audience right there with them.
This isn’t a play I would recommend to the average, occasional theatregoer. It’s too dark. It should, however, be required for any student of the theatre. Mr. Daniels and Ms. Pill are outstanding actors in this play, no matter what the Drama Desk nominators decided. They deserve to be seen -- and recognized for their performances.