Theatre Mirror Reviews - "How I Learned to Drive"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"How I Learned to Drive"

by Paula Vogel
Directed by Tara L. Matkosky

Scenic Design by Caitlin Fergus
Lighting Design by Annie Weigand
Costume Design by Adrienne Carlile Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will
Technical Director Lane Black
Dialect Coach Christine Hamel
Assistant Director Danielle Ryan
Production Manager Allie Herryman
Assistant Stage Manager Edda Baruch
Stage Manager Sarah Chapman

Li'l Bit................Alicia Hunt
Peck.....................Mark Cohen
Male Greek Chorus....John Zdrojeski
Female Greek Chorus...Danya Cousins
Teenage Greek Chorus....Melanie Neu

Boston University has given and is giving the theater-goers of Boston many rich, long-lasting gifts. The Huntington Theatre Company is in residence in an old theatre owned by B.U. and in its first years many of the best directors there were on the faculty. The Boston Playwrights' Theatre grew out of a graduate-level playwriting seminar still taught there. The School of Fine Arts continues to train generations of accomplished theatrical practitioners. And in 2008 a new Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP) began allowing faculty members and students to work side-by-side on small, flexibly-staged productions that let them share their expertise with the general public. Their production of David Rabe's "A Question of Mercy", directed by the Director of the Theatre School Jim Petosa, was nominated for an IRNE Award as last year's Best Play; this year, Tara L. Matkosky's MFA thesis production "How I Larned to Drive" may easily do the same.

Paula Vogel's play uses driving as a vibrant metaphor for sex, as the protagonist recounts and relives her tensely ambiguous relationship, from 13 to 18, with her recovering-alcoholic uncle who teaches her just about everything about both. Three others, called a Greek Chorus, play her outspoken family, fellow students, and advice-givers who lend outside expertise to the subject. But Uncle Peck's insistence that "I will never make you do anything you truly do not want to do" is a line never to be crossed --- one eventually leading to misunderstanding and disaster.

Scenic Designer Caitlin Fergus has split the black-top of stage with a glowing white-line rising as it diminishes into the distance. Alicia Hunt and Mark Cohen mostly sit on chairs, not side by side but facing one another ten feet apart. The setting is back-road farm country around Baltimore, but Uncle Peck came north from the Carolinas, and Mark Cohen (possibly with Dialect Coach Christine Hamel's help) says everything in a quiet, velvety hush; his speakin' Sothron is gently, insistently aware that it's not so much pronunciation but music that sets him apart from this northern family he married into.



"How I Learned to Drive" (10 - 27 February)
@ Studio 210, 264 Huntington Avenue, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide