Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I Did Last Summer

A.R. Gurney's new work over at the Pershing Square Signature Center is a hidden gem amongst the pile of off-Broadway plays out there. From it's construction to its unique music and rhythm to its cast - this show shines as bright as the north star in the evening sky.  Jim Simpson's fine direction appears delicate and purposeful without being overly obvious and heavy.

First off, it's not "I know what you did last summer".  That is whole other genre and ball of wax.  This show is a family drama and is touching, tender, and uplifting.  It rings true and honestly portrays a family struggle at the tail end of WWII.  No punches pulled.  No fancy stage tricks, but plenty of innovative and unique theatrical presentation techniques - most prominently - the typewriter projection on the back wall and the percussion rhythms and sounds quietly but effectively matching the rhythm of speech and motion.

Most certainly the divine Kristine Nielsen takes the show instantly to a higher level.  She is a consummate character actress and fits the bill perfectly for Anna Trumbull (a.k.a. The Pig Lady).  Carolyn McCormick (known for her recurring role of Dr. Olivet in Law & Order) was the perfectly flawed and loving mother, Grace.  Despite his tender age, the lead character, Charlie, the confused, energetic, every-day kid, was played with wild abandon and tremendous heart by the young and talented Noah Galvin (last seen in The Burnt Part Boys).

The entire play is enjoyable but when it wraps up - actually the very last line - you will leave the theater with a heart slightly warmer and full than when you entered.