Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Profile Theatre (Grade B+)

by Terraence McNally
directed by Jane Unger

Chloe Haddock   .....   Susannah Mars
Sam Truman   .....   Darius Pierce
John Haddock   .....   Leif Norby
Sally Truman   .....   Karen Wennstrom

PLOT: Sally (Karen Wennstrom) has just inherited her brother's beach house on Fire Island, following his death from AIDS.  She and her husband (Darius Pierce) have invited her husband's sister (Susannah Mars) and her husband (Leif Norby)  to spend the 4th of July week-end with them at the house.   

sez says-- we saw this in preview --so by the time you see it it will probably be an even better production than we saw--and what we saw (while not perfect) was very good indeed. It has a stunningly beautiful opening --which I will not describe--because words won't do it justice and you need to be there to see it.  (I think we can thank Jane Unger for the opening).
And then there is the play.  It was written in the late 1980s early 1990s when AIDS was still not well understood--and that is a backdrop that has to be recognized to really capture the fullness of this play.  But it pulls it off--even with the distance in time.  Because the play is not just about AIDS, it is about the things that frighten us: death is on that list, but so is living.  So while no one wants to swim in a pool that once belonged to a man who died of AIDS --because just like it was said of polio--you might get infected if you swim in that water. So too is there fear of having a child, bringing a life into this world and teaching the child what life is worth, when you don't find your own life comfortable.  Each character speaks lines that are their thoughts: and they all have a similar message--they are afraid to speak truth.  As Sam (Darius Pierce) says to himself at one time: I talk to myself because when a second person is in the conversation truth disappears.  And why are they afraid of the truth?  Each character has their own reasons...but they add up to wanting to embrace life but feeling unworthy, or incapable, or too lost in disappointments. So, they move forward being civil, as best they can.
It is a great play, well done, and looking like it will improve.
mjc says:  this a play which, as the author's notes suggest, comes alive as you recognize yourself in each of the flawed characters--bits and pieces of our own fears and disappointments.  Great event!

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