Review by Tulis McCall
(12 Apr 2011)
It’s official. David Greenspan is only visiting this planet. He is not a native. And lucky for him, Leigh Silver knows just how to direct a play written by such a visitor.
This is a play that folds in on itself. It is written for, by and about theatre folk. For that reason it may not be accessible to everyone, but there are enough of us around town, currently unemployed, to populate this tiny elegant theatre for quite some time.
Way out in the boonies of Long Island, one of those places you can’t get to from here, a brother Bernard (Brian Hutchison) and sister Claire (Lisa Banes) share a neighborhood. She is a famous actor and he is a playwriting teacher who also writes, though none have been produced. He has taken over the old family cottage, set back from the ocean with a sliver of a view if you know where to look. She has built one of those sprawling homes on the water complete with a deck and staircase. She is grand and pretentious; he is ordinary and sincere.
This particular summer weekend there are visitors from New York, Tom and his partner Malcolm (Stephen Bogardus and Tim Hopper), a director and theatre designer respectively, and Charlotte (Mariann Mayberry) an out of work actor. From Los Angeles comes Claire’s son Wally (Michael Izquierdo). And last but not least, direct from the other dimension and sent on a mission from God, is Passalus (David Greenspan).
We are invited into this play by Bernard because he has written it. It is a weird play, he tells us, and then stumbles beautifully through an introduction that leaves us nowhere, and that is just as Greenspan intended.
The story of all these folk then unwinds like a bit of spider silk. The dialogue flows like weathered pieces of cloth caught on a clothesline. They talk to each other. They think out loud. They talk to us. And the best you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. If you try and follow any one piece of this assemblage, you will miss out on the very next moment that sidles up and takes the focus.
Passalus has been sent to earth to help Claire’s daughter, Carolyn. In the strangest bit of writing – this is the one person we never meet. Instead we see all the others – á la Wings of Desisre – as they work their way through question and conflict. These are the stories that Pasalus is forbidden to explore. He is sent for Carolyn alone. His disguise is that of an older woman, Mrs. Simmons, who appears, charms and disarms, and then disappears. When Bernard stumbles upon Passalus without his disguise, it is Passalus who is disarmed. Because he succumbs to the stories of others and gets caught in his own, the oblivion he bargained for as part of his deal with God is no longer part of the deal.
Leigh Silverman knows exactly what to do with this play. The cast is both chorus and character. The inner lives mix and mingle with the outer personae. People take risks. People stay hidden. This is an MRI slice of life told with smarts and wit and depth. There are plenty of holes in the logic department, but Silverman chooses to pass over them much as a person would at a buffet. We are pointed to the juicy bits, the layered pastries, and the savory sides. Well done.
This is not a long soaring passionate drama. It is more like a lightening bug - a winged jewel with a brief allotted time in which to glow.
"Endearingly daffy new play."
Charles Isherwood for NY Times
"Is a 70-minute slice of joy about the rebirth of the human spirit. Wistful, romantic, melancholy, a bit catty, and very, very funny (when it wants to be), it leaves, as one character puts it, "a little spot on the heart."
Erik Haagensen for Back Stage
"A romantic antidote to cynical gay comedies like "Love! Valour! Compassion!," this slight but engaging piece bravely affirms that you're never too old or too soiled to win the love of a nice young man."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety