Wednesday, March 28, 2007
By now the confrontational dance of abused and abuser is almost a dramatic cliche - in this case, Una (Alison Pill, exceptional) corners Ray (Jeff Daniels, staggering) in his workplace and forces him to deal with the lingering damage of their sexual relationship (which ended when he was forty and she was twelve). He served time, changed his name and is terrified that she's tracked him down; she's a walking, rageful wound, desperate for closure. We've seen this dance before, but rarely with the force and the impact of David Harrower's stunning, psychologically astute play, which shrewdly plays tricks on the audience's sympathies before its jolting final scenes. Although it's unlikely to be as popular, partly due to its ugliness and its graphic content (I counted six walkouts at the performance I saw, attention: David Bell!), theatregoers are going to be talking about this play as they did with Doubt, debating what *really* happened. You'll hear some praise about how Harrower has written shades of gray into the situation. That's only true up to a point; for me, while open to many nuances of interpretation, this brilliant play is ultimately a grim reminder of the life-long reach of abuse. It's the best and most riveting new play I've seen so far this year.