Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Widow's Blind Date"

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"Widow's Blind Date"

by Israel Horovitz
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

Set Design by Jason Benagh
Stage Combat Consultant Joseph Zamparelli Jr.
Costumes by Crew & Cast
Lighting Design by Jason Benagh
Sound Design by Bill Triessl
Stage Manager Sadie McNeal

Archie "Billy-Goat" Crisp.......................................Tom Berry
George "Kermie" Ferguson...................................Tom Lawlor
Margy Burke.........................................................Leigh Berry

Israel Horovitz grew up in the area, and worked with The Burlington Players, but when he wrote "Widow's blind Date" using local communities in what turned out to be an intricate, complicated, and graphically violent murder-mystery, he believed no community theater would ever mount a production. Obviously, he didn't expect a former Burlington actress named Nancy Curran Willis to grow into a powerful local director who could, with a trio of equally powerful actors, make "adult subject matter, strong language and partial nudity" into riveting theater.

The play ends in a fight --- well, there are several fights, physical as well as verbal, but this one's fatal. And Horovitz is clever because, when it happens, it is a re-enactment of an old grudge-fight talked about in act one. The antagonists here are Archie and George --- Tom Berry and Tom Lawlor --- who have been bonded since second grade, when they were pegged and branded by nicknames ("Billy-Goat" and "Kermie") that followed these two townie yobs through high school and into dead-end jobs and nowhere lives. They fight because they'll never be able to reach or even contemplate whatever it is that holds them back.

Of course, the proximate cause of their explosive bickering is Margy (Leigh Berry), who went through that same education mill right along with them, but managed a stint at state college, two kids, and a job as a copy-editor. So, while George and Archie throw old newspapers into a baling-machine to be shipped off to make more paper, Margy gets a chance to correct the things that get printed on paper. And, considering the frequent icy cuts at the guys' sloppy grammar, it's odd that She called Archie for a date --- her widowed so long and all.

Fact is, she's back in town because her own brother is dying in the local hospital, and maybe she's just trying to renew old acquaintance with those she got out of high school with --- before attending her first reunion. Though that reunion will probably be a sad affair, with so many of the guys dying lately --- like Margy's husband, now her brother, and some others --- all of whom were together at their big graduation beach-party that, well, turned into a rowdy affair none of them like to remember. Even George and Archie seem fixated on their remembered battles and rivalries and jealousies from back in early grade-school, not high school.

Margy, though --- well, what do you think it means when she cools Archie's ardor like a bucket of ice-water with her words at the end of act one "I was seventeen!"?

Nancy Curran Willis has handled the bubbling violence in this cauldron of childish fights, unresolved resentments, and sexual frustrations with controlled fire. The three are at each other's throats --- physically when not verbally --- every inch of the way, until it's the battle and not the reasons for the battle that seems to be what the play's about.

Jason Benagh and a huge crew have built a battered, slovenly mill-room in the Burlington playspace that seems dripping with twenty years of dusty sweat at a nowhere job. And the fearless trio of actors were well-schooled by stage combat consultant Joseph Zamparelli Jr. in believable mayhem. It becomes a toss-up, considering the actors, whether the talk of a fight or the fight itself is the most shocking.. The awareness, though, of exactly what these fights are really all about, is the most chilling revelation of all. Cast, Director, Actors, and Community Theatre all come together here to create a stunning piece of original theater.


"Widow's Blind Date" (1 - 16 March)
Park Playhouse, 0 Edgemere Avenue, BURLINGTON, MA
1 (781) 229-2649

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide