Through March 3|
TALLEY’S FOLLY Seller Theatre/Jewish Repertory Theatre
By Augustine Warner
If you go back into the mists of fiction, to the early days of novels and theater, you find love amidst war.
Sometimes, it’s deadly, like the “Iliad” of Paris and sometimes it’s routine, like any number of novels and movies.
Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly” is a little different since it’s love against a background of war, a war we see only as talk about the small town Missouri plant making uniforms in that late summer of 1944, when the end of World War II was just visible over the horizon.
Matt Friedman (Chris J. Handley) has come to the town to renew his friendship with Sally Talley (Anne Roaldi Boucher), and perhaps much more.
They meet in her family’s decaying folly, an old boat house on the edge of the river, with a semi-sunk boat sitting in a tank on stage, David Dwyer’s design.
Secrets spill out, Matt’s tangled life story, and the life story Sally is so anxious to avoid telling.
It’s the early story of the cheerleader and the athlete in a small town high school where they are from the richest families and are destined to marry and carry on the clothing plant base of their wealth.
There’s also the issue in the old Confederacy that Matt is Jewish and Sally Talley isn’t and both are conscious of this difference in a time when the Civil War and American social values aren’t that disparate.
Matt hasn’t spent much time with Sally, a week the year before in a small resort town, and he’s desperately in love, looking for stability in a life with little.
Tom Makar contributes the sound which helps tell the story, without actually introducing other characters beyond these two, her family, the musicians across the river and Matt’s long-gone family.
Wilson chose to tell this story in a long one-act play, 97 minutes according to Matt’s intro.
When this play first appeared nearly four decades ago, it was a hot play because Wilson does such a good job of never tipping off what will happen.
Here, director Steve Vaughan has a dynamite performance from Handley, especially early on, and Boucher as the play gradually shifts to her life story and her life tragedy.
“Talley’s Folly” is a frustrating play because both Matt and Sally are so screwed up by time they can’t reach out to each other and admit they need each other.
That’s why doing it in one long take, as the two face off in that decaying boat house looking out on the endlessly-flowing river and fight over the endless flow of time.
“Talley’s Folly” is really a winter “must-see” because of the story and because of the performance and the symbolism of that slowly sinking boat.
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