Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
WHERE WE’RE BORN
By LUCY THURBER
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Place, NYC
(212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com
November 12 – December 21, 2003
Directed by WILL FREARS
Sets TAKESHI KATA
Costumes JENNY MANNIS
Lighting MATTHEW RICHARDS
Sound FITZ PATTON
Fight Director BRENT LANGDON
Stage Manager CYNTHIA KOCHER
Press Representation OPR/ORIGLIO PUBLIC RELATIONS
Patch Darragh – Marin Ireland – Jason Pugatch
Tom Sadoski – Sara Surrey
The production of Lucy Thurber’s WHERE WE’RE BORN marks the official renaming of Rattlestick Theater to Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. A notable addition to the title of the space, as Rattlestick has long had a reputation for being playwright-friendly, the decade-old venue, under artistic director David Van Asselt, has taken this occasion to reaffirm the company’s "commitment to providing a positive, nurturing experience for emerging playwrights and to present diverse and challenging plays…"
Perhaps there is no new play out there that screams out challenge as much as WHERE WE’RE BORN, a dark piece about fitting in, being forced out, and finding one’s place in this world. Set amidst a group of working class friends in a poor Massachusetts town, the often base, yet always credible denizens seem content, or at least comfortable with the status quo, and perhaps a little afraid to question it. The play explores the dramatic ramifications when change and new ideas are thrown into the mix. The results are violent.
WHERE WE’RE BORN is the type of play that works on several levels, and that has the capacity to reach an audience in multiple ways. On the surface, the play is about poverty and class struggles. A little deeper in, and it is about familial relationships and male-female conflicts. It is about betrayal, secrets and trauma. It is a play about complicated lives in a mundane little town.
College girl Lily (played with just the right combination of rage, confusion and sorrow by Marin Ireland) returns home to cousin Tony (Tom Sadoski in a seething performance) with a smile on her face, but a heap of baggage in her heart. She soon beds Tony’s steady girl, Franky (played with an even hand by Sara Surrey), and causes general upset for the locals who frequent the family home (Patch Darragh as the quiet, troubled Drew, and Jason Pugatch as the bigoted yet socially reasonable Vin). As the action quickly unfolds, the entire cast does a notable job in handling the often tongue-tripping stream of dialogue. Under the quick, steady direction of Will Frears, even though the lives involved have come undone by the end of WHERE WE’RE BORN, the production itself never steps off solid ground.
Perhaps the aspect of Ms. Thurber’s play that works the best is her dialogue. It is so authentic and so credible, that it never feels as if her characters are meant to represent archetypes, even though they do. They come across, especially as performed, as real people, and more than that, as real people unaware that they are theatrical templates. In theater, and particularly in dramatic works, there is often something artificial and stifling about the way the characters are presented and the way that they react. Not so here. So many playwrights, in the quest to imbue a higher significance to their work, put the task to paper in ways that make it the heightened language of the characters that convey the "big picture," if you will. It is so refreshing to find that in WHERE WE’RE BORN the work has significance and reach without being stylized and preachy.
To be sure, WHERE WE’RE BORN is a complicated and difficult work. It is not the feel-good event of the season. It is, most definitely high quality drama, and just the sort of play one ought to be seeing in a venue now called Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
- Kessa De Santis -