Triumph and tragedy

By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 18, 2014

His Valium-addicted, housebound wife, Harper (Melanie Stone), may ironically be the most clear-sighted person we meet, though she insists, “I’m not addicted. I don’t believe in addiction.” Sexually deprived, having to settle for the occasional “buddy kiss,” as her husband calls them, she ends up imagining herself in pristine, snowbound Antarctica, aided by her imaginary companion. Mr. Lies (Victor Terry). Unlike most of the others, at least she knows what she needs.

Since Kushner is always aware that this gay fantasia is about “National Themes,” he tosses in Ethel Rosenberg (Paolino) for Cohn to hallucinate. The lawyer brags that he was responsible for her getting the electric chair, after he illegally badgered a judge who wanted to give her life.

Smartly directed, this staging. For example, sometimes characters from the previous scene remain briefly frozen in shadows, reminding us of a thematic overlap.

These are fully inhabited performances in a play that’s not only dramatically powerful but encapsulates an important span of social history. The occasional monologues are mini-essays, but they illuminate rather than bore. Terrific stuff. Grab tickets for the marathons on June 22 and 29, when the two parts will be performed at 2 and 7 pm.

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