Winooski, VT, Jul 02, 2009 — Talley's Folly runs through July 11 at St. Michael's Playhouse in Colchester. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
TALLEY'S FOLLY by Lanford Wilson won the Pulitzer Prize when it opened on Broadway in 1979, and it's just as good a play now as it was then. This poignant romantic comedy set in 1944 brings together a Jewish accountant and an independent Southern girl on a moonlit July 4th evening in the Talley family's boat house. In the course of 90 minutes these two intensely private people sort through their feelings and their lives. They discover the truth of the theory that if people are eggs, to truly communicate the shells have to crack.
James Wolk has designed a beautifully ramshackle set of lattice work, weathered wood platforms, old boats, vines and cat tails backed by a leafy impressionistic drop. It provides a good palette for Jeffrey E. Salzberg's evocative lighting and Michael Lounsberry's atmospheric sound. Emily Dorwart's costumes are good, especially Matt's high-water pants.
The actors, Abby Lee as Sally Talley and John Patrick Hayden as Matt Friedman, are both excellent. As the play progressed, they relaxed into their roles. Miss Lee gradually reveals the indecision and underlying humor of Sally. It's a believable and multi-faceted performance.
Mr. Hayden's opening monologue is very entertaining and his dialect is terrific. He presents us with a charming character who rattles off wild imaginings and jokes to cover his insecurity. For example, when he's unable to remember a name Sally prompts him with "Olive." He replies, "I knew it was something on a relish tray."
Director Kenneth Kimmins has done a fine job of staging and directing. The ice skating scene is hilarious and takes advantage of Mr. Hayden's athletic ability. Mr. Kimmins has a good sense of comedy, and his actors do equally well in the serious scenes where their personal eggshells begin to crack.
TALLEY'S FOLLY is a terrific play full of humor, grief and finally love. In other words it's very human and humanity never dates. I found myself smiling all the way through this valentine to improbable love.
On a scale of one to five the St. Michael's Playhouse production of TALLEY'S FOLLY gets four and five-eighths covered bridges.
As this is my last trip to St. Michael's for the season, I want to remind everyone that HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES, a comedy set in London in the swinging 60s by Alan Ayckbourn opens July 14 and BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO featuring Neil Sadaka songs opens July 28.
For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.