Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
Acts of Faith
Grace Paley said writers have two ears: "that literary ear, and it's a good old ear," and the one that "hears the language of home, of your street, and your own people." A master of short fiction, Paley relied on the latter in stories with recurring characters, narrated by a woman named Faith, which explored her roots, immediate surroundings, and persistent questions that intruded like party crashers. Paley never wrote a novel, but the often-fragmented stories come together in "Faith in a Tree": she climbs one for a broader perspective on the "man-wide world." Paley swore she isn't Faith (who is a "composite," though Faith's activism and feminism reflect Paley's). Kathleen B. Jones's play is based on ten of the stories. These move from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. The scenes mirror Paley's technique. What works wonders on the page, however, becomes mere snippets on the stage. Scenes flash by, as do characters and themes touched on and then dropped. We get a sense of Faith (and how she "composites" stories from the stuff of daily life) but not much of one, because the play's emphasis on form blurs the content. The Laterthanever production tries for ambitious cinematic effects: slides on separate rear screens, tall scrims, rotating platforms (turned by hand, slowly, before your eyes), jump-cut lighting. But the execution of these effects, and the pacing in general, is so time-consuming that they backfire. The large cast speaks mostly on an unassertive vocal level, taking potential drama from a scene. Kathy Diamant does a fine turn as Hegelshtein, an interloper in a mobile wheelchair. And Linda Libby, a recent Craig Noel Award-winner, gives Faith more dimensions than exist in the script.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, March 29, 2009
- Sundays, 7pm
- Thursdays, 7:30pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 4pm & 8pm