Playwright Lauren Gunderson presents us with an apparent comedy about a young girl being awakened to the beauty of poetry (Whitman) and music (Coltrane) by a visiting classmate. However, in the final minutes the play suddenly explodes into an allegory on finding life in death.
Normally I’d hesitate to reveal the ending but, in this case, I feel justified in letting you in on a secret that for some ungodly reason was kept from the audience until right before the final curtain. The young girl is dying of an incurable illness and the young man is actually her ministerial Angel of Life.
The fact that he arrives bearing homemade cookies is only part of the deliberate misinformation that the author sends our way. Even dramaturg Christopher Breyer overlooked the basic theatrical precept that when you end with a revelation some foreshadowing is needed. Otherwise we sat through 90 minutes with what seemed like odd dramatic contrivances thrown in that only made sense after we had left the theatre. Evidently, this play has received awards and accolades elsewhere so if you go let me know if I was mislead or not.
No fault to the excellent actors: Jennifer Finch is amazing as she switches dynamically from hostile to vulnerable, and Matthew Hancock manages to make human someone no longer of this planet. Realistic direction by Robin Larsen and impressive bedroom set by Tom Buderwitz.
At the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave (at Normandie) in Hollywood, through June 14. Tickets at (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com.
Photos by Ed Krieger.