Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Night Is a Room **

To say that I liked this play the best of Naomi Wallace’s three plays for Signature Theatre’s residency program amounts to faint praise. The current play is set in Leeds, England where we meet Liana (Dagmara Dominczyk), an ad executive with beauty and style who is happily married to Marcus (Bill Heck), a popular history teacher in a girls’ school. In the first scene Liana is visiting the modest garden flat of Doré (Ann Dowd), a frumpy 55-year-old cleaning woman, who at age 15 was forced to give up the baby boy she bore. Doré is Marcus’s birth mother, whom Liana has tracked down at great expense, so she could unite mother and son as a surprise present for Marcus’s 40th birthday. Big mistake. The play skips the reunion and moves ahead three months. Liana, jealous at the many evenings Marcus has been spending at Doré’s, invites her to their upscale flat for tea. Their lives all change dramatically after that evening. After the big “reveal” which I will not give away here, what follows seems anti-climactic. The final scene, set six years later, spins its wheels and ends unconvincingly. The production is better than the material. All three actors, particularly the women, are excellent. Rachel Hauck’s set design is simple but evocative. Clint Ramos’s costumes are well-chosen. Bill Rauch’s direction is confident. If only the play did not peak too early and then go on too long, it would have been a more satisfying experience. Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes including intermission.

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