Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Where Moments Hung Before"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark


"Where Moments Hung Before"

by Joey Pelletier
Directed by Danielle Leeber

Set Design by Jeremy Goodwin
Lighting Design/Tech Direction by David Lucas
Light & Sound Operator Melissa Specht
Costume Design by Deb Shea
Graphic Design by Richard St. Germain
Company Manager Rebecca Jackson
Assistant Stage Manager Rebecca Freifeld
Stage Manager Rachel Meisels

Jasper..........................David Lucas
Patrick......................Joey Pelletier
Lucy........................Barbara Woodall
Morgan......................Jennifer Reagan
Fiona..........................Julia Specht
Quinn.......................James Aitchison
Timothy....................Michael DiLoreto
Yael............................Evelyn Howe
Jordan..........................Elise Wulff
Daniel............................Paul Ezzy
Singer/Nurse...................Adena Walker
(Lucy Understudy)..............Rose Zillaba
Ensemble...Amanda Hurley & Vincent Morreale

Every one of the characters in Joey Pelletier's oddly-titled play "Where Moments Hung Before" --- and there are a dozen of them --- is a complete, complicated, compelling human being. The play's intensely surprising explosions come from their inter-twangling sexualities, but the play's continual subtext deals with the dangers of both unprotected sex and fathomless love --- either of which can kill. Director Danielle Leeber sees to it that every one of these over-articulate individuals stands clear and self-defending in their multiple confrontations. Ultimately, everyone stakes out a position on the nature of love in today's society.

Jasper is dead --- dead of AIDS --- at the opening of the play, though David Lucas who plays him looks on, commenting, from a window above the stage. His gregarious, empathetic personality had affected all of the friends and family who hold first a freakish memorial-service where faceless well-wishers are mostly trashed in return, and then a night-long booze-heavy wake wherein everyone lets it all hang out, and memory-scenes underline all the gaps.

Every one of the dozen actors in this play deserves praise and attention, but I'd like to focus on a few of them because they embody important aspects of the script.

Much of the humor here turns on the reactions of Barbara Woodall (age 12) playing young Lucy. Often her silent "takes" on ideas grown-ups treat matter-of-factly allows an audience to see these people as unique. "Mother decided to hold Jasper's wake on the same night as my birthday-party; there'll be two cakes, one saying 'Happy Birthday' and one saying 'Rest in Peace'; I think it's creepy," she says. At one point one of Jasper's grief-soaked lovers bursts out "Why couldn't you stop him from drinking!" to which she shouts back "I'm ELEVEN!!!" Again and again Lucy covers her ears when graphic or emotional matters get discussed: she's not yet ready to participate in such overly-frank conversations.

Julia Specht is a fearless and ruthlessly honest performer playing Fiona, who insists she must be a lesbian mostly because her one sexual experience did not fulfill her expectations. Her somewhat contradictory emotional outbursts have the solidity of dogma, but under it all smoulders a fear of love --- a fear of life-long commitment.

Another actor deep in that dicotomy is James Aitchison. His Quinn insists he will turn his back on gay obsessions, will marry and become "normal"; of course, saying and doing this prove to be hard to live up to.

In such an obviously autobiographical play, it might not be such a good idea for the author to take on a major role. However, playwright Joey Pelletier strolls through his own play as Patrick with a mostly calm, clear-eyed running commentary on his friends' delusions and obsessions. In this glorious mine-field of emotional conflicts, he is the still point at the center of a whirling wheel.

This year out of a bumper-crop of productions, I have already harvested 84 "Memorable Shows" that will deserve attention at year's end IRNE-Award time --- and "Where Moments Hung Before" in different ways outshines every one of them. It is a "big" play in every way, from the size of its cast to the serious life-problems it grapples with. I'm going back closing-night to see the show again; I know I must have missed a lot of its excellences by seeing it only once.
Some plays ought to run forever...

Love,
===Anon. ( a k a larry stark )

"Where Moments Hung Before" (6 - 16 August)
BOSTON ACTORS THEATER
@ Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON
1(617) 585-5678

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