Incredible. Last night and this afternoon I caught two plays which could not have stood in greater contrast to each other as re: how two people can behave in a relationship.
It Was A Set Up, written by Kirk Wood Bromley in collabotaion with Leah Schrager was performed in a Brooklyn living room by two extremely driven, high-intensity performers exploring a relationship in total free-fall. The husband, Tim (played by a guy named Tim) a 30ish artist of questionable professional ambition and his writerly wife Charise (played by Charise) have ceased to communicate - I mean, they communicate, all the time, their hearts and desires are on their sleeves, their faces, their everything, holding nothing back only it has been a long time since either of them have been able to provide the other with anything they want.
Only I don’t think that’s fair to her. I see him no longer interested in her and her being understandably angry because this isn’t what she asked for. Making matters worse is his one-night, fliratious but otherwise non-actually-fucking encounter with a woman ten years his junior named Juliet (played by - wait for it - a woman named Lucy, who I found an incredibly watchable dancer.) The introduction of the presence of the memory of this woman makes what was merely a dysfunction relationship now non-functional.
She says, “Look at me,” and he says, “All I see is Juiet.” Actually, they never say those exact words, they say words much more inspired. But that’s what they mean.
Witnessing the sad disillusion of a once loving (?) partnership, with a glass of whiskey in your red, plastic tumbler (ice slowly melting, neglected) in an actual living room, right in your face, as they say, was not merely some theatrical trick. It was something I want to have happen again.
This afternoon I watched the Magdalyn, whom I adore, inhabit the Ruth in My Name Is Ruth, an unflinchingly sweet, mid-20th century retelling of, well, The Book of Ruth. Props to the other actor in the production and co-creator of the show Jeffery Querin (sorry I had to run guy, I wanted to shake hands!) who moved into and out of a number or supporting characters, including Ruth’s befuddled, sweaty, painfully adorable romantic interest Boaz.
I have seen Magdalyn play bloodthirtsy Lady Macbeth in close, urban classrooms. I have directed her as both the plotting, Lady Macbeth-like Peggy Shippen and the goofy, pint-sized Lord Cornwallis in Kirk Wood Bromley’s The American Revolution. I have worked alongside her performing Neo-Futurist plays in the scene shop of CPT for an audience of ten, crammed into a freight elevator. I do not believe I have seen Magdalyn play a character who at once is as earnest, unironic, rock-steady and true, and yet pulls it all off with a silly Minnesotan accent. Magdalyn Donnelly iz tha beez neez.
It Was A Setup, in its inaugural run, closed last night. My Name Is Ruth, in its New York premiere, opened this afternoon. And I got to see both. I love live theater!