Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce

Nick Martin has done an amazing directing job leading the audience step by step to believe that we might all actually be almonds and just not know it in Constellation Theatre Company’s  opening of  their 2018-2019 season with Sarah Ruhl’s sparkling, sassy, sexy comedy Melancholy.

Tilly, the bank teller, is not being silly when the first thing she asks is “Why are you an almond?”  The human brain’s  amygdala is one of the two almond-shaped groups that processes memory, decision making and emotional responses—all the things involved in falling in love or being angry,  making us happy or sad, or in short making us humans be human.   

The story is simple but where it leads is not. Falling in love with love — everyone does when they encounter “the exquisite personification of melancholy,” Tillie the bank teller (Billie Krishawn).  Lorenzo  (Christian Montgomery) is her foreign therapist treating her because the bank wants her to be happy and he goes crazy with love for her.  Frank (John Austin) is her tailor and one of her bank customers who falls in love with her.  Frances (Mary Myers) is her hair dresser who falls in love with her.  Joan is  a nurse who is Frances’ partner (Lilian Obe) who…well you get the idea of the litany of Tillie’s lovers.

Like a house of cards, they all fall down when Tillie gets happy, and then happier, and then, well one of them turns into …an almond. 

With flights of dreamy poetry at random moments and  amazing fight scenes over ridiculous situations, Melancholy is never unbelievable as it strikes so close to what is essential in human experience.  The almond.  

This is a chance to escape from real life into play that is about what is real in life.  

Kate Rears Burgman  as Julian provides the accompaniment on the cello, an instrument that is not easy to play something happy on, with music composed by Wytold.

The Production and Design crew is first rate:  Lighting by A.J. Guban, scenic design by Jonathan Dahm Robertson Costumes by Kitt Crescenzo, Props by Marie Schneggenberger, Dialect Consultant Elizabeth van den Berg Assistant Director Francesca Chilcote, Stage ManagerJenny Hannah Rubin, Assistant Stage Manager Sam Reilly, and Technical director Mike Salmi.

Until September 2, 2018,  at Constellation Theatre at the Source 1835 14th Stret NW, Washington DC.