Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies
Tangent Theatre’s production of ‘Sight Unseen’ is well-wrought drama -- Jim Donick Northern Dutchess News (5/15/13)
One of the great joys for a theatre lover must be the pleasure of watching good actors disappearing into meaty character roles. “Sight Unseen” fits that bill nicely. It’s an actors’ play.
Donald Margulies gives us a story with a set of characters whose sole purpose is to help us understand who they are and what makes them tick. It sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not simple. It’s magic.
The story is delivered in a “non-linear” fashion. It bounces back and forth through time, allowing glimpses into the characters that only become tied together neatly at the end. We have a couple of interesting relationships that are being worked out on the stage as we get to know the characters. Jonathan Waxman, the uber-rich successful bad boy of the art world, claims to seek only the “truth” that can be found in art. He has a relationship with Patty, who was his lover 15 years earlier. He also has a relationship with his own Jewishness that colors his rebellion and colors his need to belong to a group. His third relationship may be the most important, and that’s his relationship with himself. Self-absorbed barely begins to describe him.
Patty had been Jonathan’s lover but, as she’s a blonde Gentile, there were serious issues with Jonathan’s mother. Patty later describes herself as Jonathan’s “sacrificial shiksa.” That’s a fascinating description. Patty is currently married to Nick. In his world she is Patricia. Nick’s a Brit whom she married partly to be able to stay in the UK and partly to settle for some sort of relationship after breaking with Jonathan. She’s working through the remains of the Jonathan affair and fitting it into the relationship with Nick. Otherwise she’s relatively healthy emotionally, or will be before we’re done.
The simplest of the characters is Nick. There are deep waters running beneath his quiet exterior. He loves his wife and knows he’s competing with the memory of her relationship with Jonathan. He’s patient, though, and dares to hope his love will ultimately win out. The fourth role is a German art critic interviewing Jonathan. Her task is not to develop her character but to be the one who gives us some extra pieces of the puzzle and forces Jonathan to answer some less than comfortable questions. The role is an interesting tool to help move the plot.
The three leads’ performances are the stuff theatrical dreams are made of. Audrey Rapoport proves memorable as Patty/Patricia. In moving the timeline back and forth in his script, Margulies moves her from angry but regretful ex-lover to youthful sex pot and back again. Rapoport doesn’t only deliver the character development completely credibly, but she does it with style and grace. She may be turning in the dramatic performance of the Hudson Valley’s 2013 spring season.
Greg Skura, playing Jonathan, has possibly the best hidden depths to his character that Margulies’ script offers. His need to belong and to control his own narrative results in an ethically deeply flawed character. Some of that may be the price he paid to become successful. Either way, he’s been hiding it so long that it takes the entire play to peel back the layers of camouflage to find the essential schmuck underneath.
The third lead, Patricia’s husband, Nick, has its own set of complexities. A basically decent human being, he loves his wife. The challenge of the relationship means he has spent years trying to understand her attachment to the memory of her affair with Jonathan, while respecting the walls she’s constructed to protect that part of her life. He’s the most honest of the three and quite likable. Laurence Lowry never misses a step in his performance in the role.
What do we have, then? The Tangent Theatre production gives us a rare opportunity to become completely absorbed into the complexities of these three lives. “Sight Unseen” is a drama of uncommon depth. The Carpenter Shop Theater in its intimacy provides the perfect venue to complement the script. The Village of Tivoli is not the obvious place one would expect to find theatrical magic, but there it is. The Tangent Theatre Company have woven their spells or sprinkled their pixie dust, or maybe they just worked bloody hard at their craft. The result is clearly the dramatic production of the Hudson Valley season so far.
It’s a keeper.
Tangent Theatre Company
proudly presented this award-winning play that examines love, art, identity...
and the cost of fame.
by Donald Margulies
May 2 - 19, 2013
Thursdays - Saturdays 8pm
directed by Michael Rhodes
w i t h
Summer Corrie Laurence Lowry *
Audrey Rapoport * Greg Skura *
Laurence Lowry, Audrey Rapoport and Greg Skura
Greg Skura, Summer Corrie
* member Actors' Equity Association
(click the mic)