Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: 04/13/2007

Transport Group's production of William Inge's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is something to see. Director Jack Cummings III has stripped the play down to essentially just the text itself, disposing of anything resembling a traditional set and all but the most essential props. Cummings puts all his trust in the play and his uniformly excellent cast and the results transcend what could be, if given a more traditional “museum piece” re-creative staging, a rather creaky evening. This production focuses on the idea that this is a memory play, setting much of the action behind scrims and placing a haze on what is being seen and remembered. And what is being remembered is the difficult relationship of Cora and Rubin Flood and the effects this has on their children Reenie and Sonny. While homosexuality is never mentioned, the coded signals are there in the character of Sonny: the over-baring mother, the distant father, the “outsider” status among the other children and his love of movies and movie stars. As Sonny, the very young Jack Tartaglia gives a very respectable performance, but the real treat of the evening is Michele Pawk as Aunt Lottie – it's a juicy part and Pawk doesn't miss one opportunity to shine. If there is one downside to the production it is that the deliberately tableau-like blocking doesn't vary, making for a restrained climax – but that's actually a minor quibble in such an outstanding evening.

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