Friday, October 5, 2007

When the Messenger is Hot - October 4, 2007

When the Messenger is Hot was developed in Chicago and is presented at 59E59 by Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It is a perfect choice to transfer to New York as the protagonist or rather protagonists, there are three 'versions' of Josie's character, (played simultaneously by Kate Arrington, Lauren Katz and Amy Warren) was born in New York and moves to Chicago where she eventually 'develops'. All three actresses have a turn at being the 'present' Josie, and all are wonderful, but my special favorite was Amy Warren who seems to truly capture Josie's awareness of her self-esteem issues while fighting against them.

photo credit: Jay Geneske

The three in one presentation of Josie is clever and often funny, ringing true to the inner voices we hear in our heads. That's something we can all identify with, as are the other points addressed in this funny, moving and sometimes tear-jerking play adapted by playwright Laura Eason from the book by Elizabeth Crane. The use of the 'three in one' is also a subtle nod to Josie's loss of faith in a god who would take her mother from her, "when she needed her mother most."

Josie's Mom (Molly Regan) is 'not like other mothers'. She is an opera singer, Regan pulls off all aspects of her character flawlessly and her voice is beautiful and a fabulous counterpoint to her hilarious cursing. Josie's explains that her only childhood rebellion was not to use profanity as it was the only thing she could do to distinguish herself from her parents.

It gives nothing away to say that Josie's mother dies so I will address here a beautiful piece of directing by Jessica Thebus. The funeral for Mom is handled in such a simple way that I found tears running down my cheeks. Sometimes the most moving moments are the simplest ones.

To discuss the plot here would detract from the beauty of watching it unfold so I will say nothing more about the story. I will say go see it. Oh, and if you like PiƱa Coladas, and getting caught in the rain... you'll love it. Really.

Despite the surface charm and wit there are serious human issues addressed here, and Ms. Eason is to be commended for her subtle touch with delicate matters and a wonderfully natural ear for dialogue.

When the Messenger is Hot
59E59 Theaters (B)
59 East 59th St.
New York, NY
Tickets: 212-279-4200
running time: 1 hour 15 (no intermission)

October 3 - October 28, 2007

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