(Jim Carpenter and Stacy Ross. Photo by Jennifer Reiley.)
I had the opportunity to read Linda McLean's play before I saw it, and it didn't jump out at me on the page. Act II felt too conventional, its characters thinly drawn; Act I was gut-wrenching in the end, but with too much "Want some tea?" dialogue leading up to it.
Having now seen the Magic's American premiere production of the play, which has just closed, I can say I might be a poor judge of which scripts would work well on the stage. The way McLean writes, with ample line breaks, little punctuation and few stages directions, gives the actors a great deal of freedom—so much so that characters I'd read as dyspeptic were performed as downright giddy. And one character, Jackie, who on the page felt like yet another iteration of a tiresome trope of long-suffering, much-sacrificing female characters, was brought to full and rich life in an enchanting performance by Stacy Ross.
It was an incredible afternoon of theater; I didn't even take notes. The show leaves you with an impression of a capricious, absurd universe, one where miracles are the twin of horrifying catastrophe and each person's experience of a moment is so unbridgeably his own. I'm glad I saw it by myself, so I didn't have to talk to anyone afterward and could spend the whole ride back smiling and crying.