Friday, April 03, 2009

Human Sketches

This closes tomorrow at Sam Bass Theater. As of this writing, there are seventeen seats still available.


I heard, from the first night of the auditions, that seeing this was going to make me cry. It is about an artist who commits suicide when her Parkinson's Disease becomes too much.

(Which is somewhat similar to the situation of my husband, who put a bullet in his head because he thought he might have Parkinson's Disease. I could understand the artist doing that, after confirming the doctor's diagnosis by living with it for five years. My husband, on the other hand, didn't have the balls to see a doctor and find out if his guess was correct.)

I have no theater education. I have a lot of on-the-job training, which is not the same thing. You can discuss all sorts of different styles, methods and approaches to theater, and I won't know what the hell you are talking about. I know even less about psychology.

As the first scene of this play got underway, I was afraid it was going to be all talk-y and intellectual (in other words, over my head). Such was not the case; it is bright and witty, with characters anyone can relate to.

It is a story of two relationships that intertwine, to the benefit of both. It is a story of love and loss; of anger and acceptance. The climax is one of the most beautiful pieces of performance art I have ever seen: a poem in sign language. The scene was beautiful: the poet dances the poem with her entire body, while Margo stands back in the shadows, reading it aloud.

If I had been able to express my pain and grief over the loss of my husband, partner and best friend that way, it might have reduced my endless consumption of Kleenex. Truths were expressed that have great relevance in my life, and there is comfort there for me.

This is a fine work by Trey Deason, brought to life beautifully by Sean Hunter and his cast...Jeremy Barta as Patrick, a young man learning to care for another, yet still caught up in the "frat rat" mentality. River Gareth as Rebecca, the accidental mother who beats herself up for not living up to her own expectations, which are really just those of others which she has internalized. Beth Burroughs as the artist, whose life is brought up short by Parkinson's Disease, Shauna Danos as her lover, the signing poet, and Amy Lewis as the hard-boiled art museum board member, who has her own disappointments. These people have given life to Trey's story in a way that touched my heart.

The set is spare, all in black and white. The actors have wonderful touches of bright colour in their costumes.

I have to wonder...if I could have asked the same questions of Jim that Rebecca asks of Letitia's ghost, what answers would I have got?

Be one of the lucky seventeen who still has a chance to see this. I'm so glad I did.


  1. I agree with Ronni. It was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Everyone in the audience was touched I think by this really remarkable play. You really go from laughter to tears in a heartbeat, then back again, which is a little bit of what the theme is all about. Go see this play.

  2. Sounds terrific. I will watch for it to come to NYC stage.

    Great review--and nothing could have stopped the consumption of the Kleenex.