Lanford Wilson described his play, “Talley’s Folly,” as being about “two lame ducks that find a wholeness, rare in human relationships.” Winner of a Pulitzer and a Drama Critic’s Award, after its premiere in 1980, the one-act play takes place on the July 4, 1944, in Lebanon, Mo. It’s considered to be one of the most popular and universally accessible of Wilson’s innovative works, part of his Talley Trilogy. Beside taking an intimately revealing look at love, it comments on the times, which included the beginning of the McCarthy Era and anti-union sentiments, with such lines as, “It’s hard to use your peripheral vision when you’re being led by the nose.” Director Kate Alexander elicits every ounce of pathos, humor and drama out of this great piece of writing.
The opening-night audience was enthralled by the delightfully human characters as they fought their way through the pits and minefields of their own psychological landscape and the geography of social change. Dominic Comperatore is compelling in his emotion and perfect in his comic timing as Matt Friedman, a Jewish immigrant in love with the Midwestern daughter of a wealthy family.
“When they passed out logic, everyone in the Ozarks went on a marshmallow roast,” declares Friedman, who’s considered by some in those tumultuous, suspicious times to be a “communist, traitor, infidel.”
On this night in July, he’s using his last chance to woo Sally Talley, a 31-year-old spinster nurse who’s been fired from teaching Sunday School for political reasons. Maren Bush is charmingly empathetic as Sally, who’s torn by fear and shame, or, as Matt puts it, “We all have a Humpty Dumpty complex.”
Both actors have large backgrounds on stage in New York and California.
April Soroko, scenic and costume designer, has created a beautiful setting in collaboration with Rob Perry’s eloquent lighting design, for this wonderful example of Wilson’s style of “lyrical realism.”
Talley’s Folly is an old, dilapidated boathouse. A rowboat sits in the middle, which the actors contrive to utilize during the proceedings. Built to resemble a Victorian gazebo, complete with frets, fleur-de-lis relief and other furbelows, it sets just the right mood of romance, moonlight and desperation.
IF YOU GO
FST’s “Talley’s Folly,” by Lanford Wilson
When: July 25 to Aug. 26
Where: Keating Theater, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Tickets: Start at $29
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