Sunday, September 16, 2012

Parallel Lives

by Pa Rock
Theatre Aficionado

Things which run parallel to one another go on forever, side by side, without interfering with one another or intersecting.  The play, Parallel Lives, however, was hugely successful during its run in Phoenix because of two things that did intersect - great writing and superb acting!

The play, which I saw last night at the Nearly Naked Theatre in downtown Phoenix (the final performance) was written by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy and chronicles modern life through the dialogues of two individuals, ably portrayed by Andrea Morales and Johanna Carlisle.  The dialogues ranged from God and creation to love, sex, abortion, and religion.  The situations were hard life, the language strong, and the emotion griping.

Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out which actor was Ms. Morales and which was Ms. Carlisle, but each had an outstanding monologue.  One kept the audience enthralled as she played a Jewish aunt discovering and coming to terms with the knowledge that her favorite nephew was gay.  The other portrayed a screaming protestor outside of an abortion clinic who explored her own complicated history of pregnancy and child-bearing between her screechy taunts of women trying to access the services of the clinic.   She was as mean and angry as someone crawling out of a Fred Phelps' van, and as fragile as a young girl whose life has just been capsized by an unwanted pregnancy.   It was an amazing piece of work.

The second actor also had a six-or-seven-minute pantomime in which she put herself through the motions of a young woman getting up and preparing for work.  There were no words, but there was also no problem in understanding her routine and the pressures associated with getting to work on time.

This play featured lots of physicality, and both actors were up to the challenge of using their bodies to tell the stories.

One of my few regrets about spending the last two years overseas was that I missed the wonderful theatre offerings of Phoenix.  If Parallel Lives was a good indicator, and I know that it was, this will be a great year for theatre in the Valley.

Equus will be returning to the Nearly Naked Theatre in January!

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