It is rare that you come across a piece in a festival that has you thinking you just discovered the next great American playwright, but you know it in an instant. David Scala’s Among the Furies, premiering at the New York Summerfest, brings one of those moments. His writing is as if George and Martha from Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf have met and embraced Tennessee Williams. It is dark, pathetic, desperate, poetic and so utterly devastating you cannot draw your eyes away from the destruction. It helps when your cast is flawless, the direction seamless, and the design elements perfectly done.
The set and costumes by Andrew McCourt show a southern mansion in neglect. Done simply; we see a beam down and that says it all. In the background, a projection of the Greek Furies. Charles Davis’s lighting is somber and subtle and his sound design is also well done – I loved the soundtrack.
We have entered this southern home that is withering both inside and out, during what was a night of drinking and debauchery. Vera (Claire Ganshert) is still drinking her way to passing out, as Henry (Joseph R. Thomas) lapses into their nightly engagement of dangerous emotional games. They are not yet 30, but the bitterness is seething. When a slightly older couple, Aaron (Scott T. Freeman) and Penny (Toni Benedict), show up to discuss a prospective job opportunity, southern charm turns into an all-out war. As the four drink up, scathing verbal abuse uncovers secrets from their pasts. Their lives start to unravel as abuse shows its many forms. Nothing is as it seems, nor are people who you think they are.
All four of these new actors are superb, but a shout out goes to Claire Ganshert, whose portrayal of Vera is heartbreaking. She deconstructs right before our eyes without asking for pity. It is a flawless performance.
Not only did David Scala write this play, he also directed. He is a first-time playwright but has a nice resume for someone so young in directing films. Let’s hope he finds theatre just as attractive as film work and continues this journey. This work was truly moving and I can not wait to see the doors open for this talented new addition to the theatre world.
Among the Furies: New York Summerfest, Hudson Guild Theatre. Closed