As the mother of this odd, damaged brood, Nicholson does a marvelous job sustaining Amanda’s absurd Southern sparkle, and to her credit, Amanda’s ridiculousness is never far from tragedy. Nicholson delivers particularly bright but devastating nostalgia as Amanda, dressed in hopelessly out-of-date yellow chiffon, recalls bringing bouquet upon bouquet of jonquils into her mother’s house.
Amanda has donned this yellow frock of her glory days in order to receive a long-awaited “gentleman caller,” Jim (Mike Best). In the potential salvation that this stranger represents, the household is taut. Best does well in bringing an utterly normal, aw-shucks persona into these tense rooms, and Lopez’s slow warm to him is fine work. But Best and Lopez bury one of the play’s most crucial moments, when Jim, dancing with Laura, accidentally knocks and breaks the horn off of her treasured unicorn.
More expertly handled are the play’s sustained illusions. The aching rhapsodies of Tom’s memory are wrought of light (kudos to JP Gagnon’s design), color, filaments, and gauze. And the play’s title obsession is piercingly lit, the brightest thing on an overwhelmingly dream-dim stage.
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