by Julia Polinsky
often, words are open to interpretation. In the best possible way, interpreting
almost every word spoken makes Lauren Yee’s In A Word deeply engrossing,
a surprise in a play so short.
Usually, “80 minutes no intermission” is code for “we know it
needs work, but don’t want you to skip out in the middle” or “author doesn’t
know how to write a whole play.” In this case, it means “so damn
good, those 80 minutes will fly by and you’ll be glad you spent them here.”
Here is the Cherry Lane Theater; the 80 minutes will be spent at In A Word, a moving,
intelligent, heartbreaking theatre piece about love, language, loss, and
years after Fiona’s son disappeared, nothing makes sense to her. Her alienated
husband, Guy, baffles her; the missing-persons detective seems to have given up
on her case; the creep who chats her up in the checkout line talks like a
kidnapper. Her muddy memories of the past two years swirl around her job, her
home, her son, and how his life and disappearance affect her.
after time, a single word prompts memories. Strong words: “kidnapper”
“difficult” “retard.” Words of love, words of regret. Pocketfuls of words.
Plays on words – leave/leaf/tree means so much more than those three words by
themselves, for instance. So many words that Fiona uses to circle around her
truth – In A Word finally delivers that truth, in yet more significant
words. Or does it?
the end, you ache for Guy and Fiona, for their sorrow and their love and
because sometimes, saying something doesn’t make it true. That kind of
connection comes about because skilled, talented theater people are doing
amazing work with a simply splendid script.
and foremost, the actors. In A Word offers up two knockout performances,
from Laura Ramadei and Jose Joaquin Perez, and one extraordinary one, from
Justin Mark. (Remember that name. He’s amazing.) Scenic and lighting
design, by Oona Curley: exactly right. Space, staging, and light tell the story
with spare simplicity. Sound design, by Stowe Nelson: spot on – pay particular
attention to the jars; that bit is exquisite. Costumes by Andrea Hood make Guy
and Fiona into people we know, and Man into everything. Direction by Tyne
Rafaeli makes you grateful that such intelligent, seamless, sensitive direction
exists in this world.
to everyone involved in In A Word, which runs until July 8. It would be
a shame to miss this moving, deeply rewarding play. Go see it.
by Lauren Yee, presented by Lesser America
16 - July 8, Wednesday – Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 3pm & 8pm
Cherry Lane Theatre
$25, available at
212-352-3101 or www.lesseramerica.com/box-office
Teaser: In A Word: the
word is GEM. Don’t miss it.