The current production at Stageworks/Hudson, “Falling: A Wake,” by Gary Kirkham is an award-winner, an American premiere and, as presented by this courageous company, a stunning tribute to everything that matters in the theater. The play is masterfully crafted, acted with fine nuance, and meticulously directed by Laura Margolis.
‘Falling: A Wake’
WHERE: Stageworks/Hudson, 41-A Cross Street, Hudson
WHEN: Through Sept. 28
HOW MUCH: $27-$16
MORE INFO: 822-9667
Elsie (Susan Greenhill) and Harold (Martin LaPlatney) live on a chicken farm, which Harold describes as not “in the middle of nowhere” but at the “nondescript edge of nowhere.”
It is a clear autumn night. The middle-aged couple enter the leaf-strewn yard to find out what has spooked their dog, which is barking furiously. They spy a shooting star that is falling far too slowly and then a thunderous crashing sound assails them.
When they emerge from the blackness of the next few moments, they are confronted by a young man (Kyle Filiault) sitting in a seat wrenched from a jetliner. As an audience member, you become aware that his silent presence will change their lives.
In the course of the play, you learn that Harold is a college professor who has not worked in 10 years, a gourmet cook and a philosopher. Elsie is a homemaker, a person of deep spirituality and a lady who enjoys confounding her husband with intentional malapropisms (she calls Cape Canaveral Camp Carnival). The nearby townspeople consider them both “a little peculiar.”
You learn other things too. They have been affectionately married for 25 years, they inherited the farm and are not “real farmers,” and they have lost a son, who simply disappeared one day 10 years ago.
In a dynamic moment, brilliantly staged by Margolis, when the young man is entirely alone onstage, you enter the ambient circumstances of the play and begin to realize who the young man could be. At the same time, Kirkham’s skillful pen brings his characters to the same possible conclusion. Oh, this is incandescent writing.
Greenhill gives exquisite life to the impish heresy and hope of a woman who has fought against the obvious and realistic facts of her son’s disappearance and his fate. LaPlatney is sublime in his romantic devotion to his wife, his acceptance of his infirmities, and his anger at the circumstances that have dominated his life. Filiault is supremely disciplined as the young man who arouses the consuming curiosity of the couple and the audience.
The set by John Pollard is grandly simple; a country farmyard, an autumnal sky, and a far-off windmill. If the stars (lighting design by Frank Den Danto III) do not twinkle but pop in and out like a “fill” test at an eye doctor’s office, it is not terribly distracting. And the original music and sound design by Will Severin are evocative of the many moods of the play.
This is mesmerizing theater not to be missed by those who love the theater.