2nd Story Theatre's opening downstage production of 2015 is "Collected Stories" by Donald Margulies. It is about Ruth Steiner, a teacher and respected short story writer and her relationship with her student and protege, Lisa Morrison. In the first scene Ruth throws down her key to Lisa, unlocking her life and secrets to her and in the last scene asks her to take out the trash when she disowns Lisa. It is about the conflict between the established artist and the idolizing fan who becomes a protege, a disciple, a colleague, a friend and finally a threatening rival. It takes place over the course of six years and is reminiscent of "All About Eve'' as Lisa journeys from insecure student to successful writer. After publishing a well conceived collection of short stories about her bulimia, father's infidelity, Lisa writes a novel about Ruth's affair with a poet. The women deal with the moral dilemma of whether a person's life events are suitable for another to use in their creative process. Director Mark Peckham obtains stunning and nuanced performances from his two terrific actresses in this six scene show. He blocks the show perfectly, keeping the energy flowing all night long. The fantastic and realistic Greenwich village apartment set is by Trevor Elliott.
Lynne Collinson commands the stage as Ruth. She is hilarious in the first two scenes and at the end of Act 1 her description of the poet she had an affair with is mesmerizing, capturing the pathos of the past. Lynne delivers a tour-de-force performance in the confrontation scene. This closing scene is electrifying, keeps you on the edge of your seat with Lynne's brilliant line delivery and portrayal. Her anguish at being betrayed by this younger woman is breathtaking. Her pent up rage explodes at the betrayal of stealing her life story. The acting is reminiscent of a Tennessee Williams script at his best. Gabby Sherba runs the gamut of emotions as this younger woman. She goes from excited, enthusiastic young beginner into a conniving, duplicitous bitch who will fight and claw her way to the top of her field. Lisa shows no remorse in betraying her friend's most personal secret in her new work. Gabby delivers a marvelous performance as we watch her change and mature throughout the show when the women exchange positions of power over the other. So for a marvelous look at a contemporary play that will resonate and astound the audience, be sure to catch "Collected Stories" at 2nd Story Theatre. The phenomenal acting and direction will enthrall you all night long. Brava on a job very well done!