note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark
Set Design by Heidi-Louise Margocsy, Sonya Keller, Eric Cohen
Lighting Design by Eric Cohen, Andy Dauksch
Assistant Director/Stage Manager Sonya Keller
Writing a lot of reviews tends, unfortunately, to devalue critical language. Words tend to get used up when used too often --- words like "searing" "brutal" "uncompromising" "blazing" (a personal cliché of mine, that) "riveting" or the old standards "best" "outstanding" "solid" and let's not leave out "WONNNderful"! What I'm getting at is, who's going to believe me, after I've said that the level of acting I saw at the Boston Women On Top Festival is "the best I've seen so far this year" if I have to say the same damn thing about the Litterbox Productions' "Keely and Du" at Actors' Workshop? But I DO have to say it. You run out of superlatives early in this job, but you don't run out of occasions that need them. And this is the directorial debut of a lady out of Australia named Heidi-Louise Margocsy whose work must be seen to be believed --- because mere words just don't cut it anymore.
Understand, no one does things in theater alone, and Jane Martin's is a take-no-prisoners script --- an acting exercise of uncompromising brutality. Du (Mikki Lipsey) is a multiple mother, and a nurse, and a Christian right-to-life hostage-taker locked alone in a Providence basement with three-months-pregnant Keely (Teresa Goding) handcuffed to a bed. She and Walter (Bill Doscher) are part of a plot to kidnap several "typical" abortion-seekers and force them to bear live children which they may then keep or give up for adoption. Keely is "typical" because she was raped by her ex-husband Cole (David Egan), who reappears late in Act Two a born-again penitent offering to prove his redemption by acting as a good father and husband. None of these people, as the play demonstrates, can ever compromise with one another on anything. (Here's the perfect place for the cliché "explosive", right?)
Now, the program assures me that I've seen some of these actors before, that Bill Doscher and Teresa Goding were in "House of Blue Leaves" at the Footlight Club together, that she did "Moon Over Buffalo" there and he did "Cuckoo's Nest" at Spiral Stage, and that David Egan was Lucky in Pet Brick's "Godot". No way! I've never seen these actors, because I've never seen these actors become these embattled people! I've never seen Goding dragging an entire bed across the stage by her handcuffed left wrist, nor seen Egan's muted male rage explode into action. I've never seen Doscher's uncompromising zealot attempt to contain his rage by trying to love the sinner while detesting the sin. And I've certainly never seen Lipsey move from condescending compassion to sincere mothering empathy. So it's got to be their director, right? I mean, no actors no matter how dedicated could submit themselves to such searing vulnerability and uncompromising vituperation without director Margocsy beating them with sticks and cattle-prods, right? I mean, and for just Three Performances? No way!
And, it doesn't help that I come from seeing a great comedy about a woman Trying to get pregnant because she wants a baby to a blazing docudrama about a woman so dedicated to her unique freedom she goes mountain-climbing alone. I mean, I review plays --- each one uniquely standing on its own merits, okay? But how can I find new words for this pair of plays, whipsawed as I am by their points-of-view? Gimme a bleepin' break here!
The really sad thing is that though "Keely and Du" will be sold out tonight (Saturday) they will probably not be on Sunday, because a lot of the people who read this review will be reading it after it has closed. So I'm rushing it into The Mirror, just in case any of you who really love searing, brutal, uncompromising, blazing, riveting, best, outstanding, solid, WONNNderful theater can get to the Actors' Workshop sometime in the next 48 hours to see some of it.
Oh shit! I was going to put some long-winded insight about this play being the reverse of The Stockholm Syndrome into this review --- about the hostage-Taker in this case bonding with the captive because they are, for the months they are alone together, all they have to hang on to. Shit. And it was trenchant, too. It really was! Damn. Now I'll have to wait for the next production of "Keely and Du" to say it. I don't just review plays, you know. I can be as trenchant as anybody! I really Can!