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Off Broadway

My Eyes Went Dark: From Grief and Unleashed Revenge

My Eyes Went Dark: From Grief and Unleashed Revenge
Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon

Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

It’s a stark black set, a runway of sorts, with audience members on both sides of the slim acting space. Two chairs, and a number of lights are all that graces the stage. This beautifully told tale of utter grief and sadness is slowly parsed out to us over the 90 minutes we spend with these two souls that inhabit this perfectly crafted small space. Declan Conlon and Thuritha Jayasundera, the two very fine actors that have gifted us with their presence and talent, make it feel huge though. They take this story that is based on a father’s intense unsparing reaction to a family tragedy, and make the 75 minutes feel immense and heavy with anger and loss. Although writer and director, Matthew Wilkinson’s deep and layered drama has moments of disconnect, the play and the performances overcome those unfocused scenes as a whole, leading us down the runway into an abyss of pain and anguish.

Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon

Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

The way this piece is crafted it would be criminal to divulge the drama that sets this tale of loss, anger, and revenge in motion, but it is riveting. Sound design from Max Pappenheim heightens the intensity of the tragedy, while the set and costumes by Bethany Wells, and the lighting by Elliot Griggs keeps it dead center and unwavering. Conlon (The Abbey Theatre’s The House), as the husband and father Nikolai Koslov, the center of this tragedy, is majestic in his stance, posture, and delivery. He is frightening in his stone cold anger, poised with an aggressive and intelligent stance, while also showing the fragility and tremors of discontent underneath his thick skin. It’s a compelling portrayal that is etched in detail and layered with a complex understanding of grief and revenge. Playing multiple other roles sparring with Koslov is the phenomenal Jayasundera (National Theatre’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle) morphing herself on the turn of a dime from a psychiatrist, to a grieving mother, to a child (to name a few), all effortlessly and instantaneously. It’s thrilling to watch, and awe-inspiring to witness how the shifts in her tone, accent, and body language signal so much. She has definitely been given the showier of parts, and rises to the occasion. She is also given the most epic and startling moment playing one innocent character who observes Koslov while talking on the phone with her mother. It’s a breath-taking scene that hits us hard and is only heightened when that character returns later. I’ll say no more, but these two are electric in their thoughtful and intense performances.

Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon

Thuritha Jayasundera, Declan Conlon. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Brought to New York by 107Group, in association with Traverse Theatre and Cusack Projects LTD to participate in the #BritsOffBroadway series, the 59E59 Theatres has scored another epic theatrical piece on the same high level of Torben Betts’s dark comedy, Invincible, Gary Owen’s surprisingly moving, Iphigenia In Splott, and Jon Brittain’s deeply effecting play, Rotterdam. Makes me sad that I missed some of the other offerings that jumped over the pond to grace us and our theatrical scene,. I will hold my breath now, and wait impatiently for next year’s Brits Off Broadway. It’s turning into a spectacular annual event, chock full of a thrilling assortment of fantastic theater. My eyes will only be lightened by the stellar line-up at this series.

So for more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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