Anne Adams Strange Country, produced by New Light Theater Project and Access Theater, is well written, well directed and well acted, but seriously who wants to sit through this? This play which seems like Ms. Adams therapy, combines severe, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, the loss of children to ex spouses and lack of any remorse.
Darryl’s (Sidney Williams) apartment, is filled with beer cans, left over pizza boxes, several bottles of liquor. As the play begins, Darryl wakes up from his stupor and pees in the kitchen sink, as we get to watch. A couple of hours later his sister Tiffany (Vanessa Vache) and her girlfriend Jamie (Bethany Geraghty) burst in. Along with microwaveable food packages Tiffany has come to collect her brother to attend her parents recommitment ceremony in which Darryl flatly refuses to attend. As Tiffany bullies, cajoles, sweet talks Darryl rebuts her every move. We are in Bell County, Texas, 4th of July weekend and Jamie is over sensitive to the apartment, the fighting and has issues of her own. The couple leave with the promise to come back the next day to collect Darryl.
Later that night Jamie having fought with Tiffany reappears at Darryl’s and the two bond over alcohol and how their behavior has cost them not only their children but everything else. The two get drunk and sleep together. Tiffany appears in the morning to discover the incident too two non remorseful participants. Seems Jamie has a habit of doing this and Darryl doesn’t care. In the end Tiffany wins by getting the two of them apart but loses everything in the end except her need to help her mother out by getting her brother to her wedding.
Truth, happiness and at what cost are at the crux of this play. Adams has created three complex characters but we don’t really like any of them except for maybe Tiffany. Vanessa Vache embodies Tiffany with an energy that is inspirational putting her biting lines across with a one two punch. lines. Bethany Geraghty as Jamie shows us how someone with no care for anyone else can be venerable, appealing and seductive, but this is Sidney Williams as Darryl’s play. His journey is the biggest emotional rollercoaster and though Darryl is definitely out for himself in the end he sheds some that self indulgence to care about another even if it is another damaged soul.
Jay Stull’s direction keeps us interested and he makes us believe this tale of woe. Brian Dudkiewicz set is the perfection of a complete slobs apartment, terrifying and honest.
Adams writing is natural, though again as I have been stating for most of this summer who really is your audience and who wants to see this. In all honesty I don’t. I feel as if my soul is being stolen.
Strange Country: Access Theater, 380 Broadway on the 4th floor until Aug 13th.