Erin Shea Brady is a contributing writer and critic at PerformInk and Newcity Stage. Directing credits include: Everybody (Brown Paper Box Co.) and Cabaret, Annapurna (staged reading) and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes Theater Project). Erin has assistant directed and dramaturged productions at the Goodman, Jackalope, TimeLine, A Red Orchid, Northlight, and Remy Bumppo. Erin is a graduate of the directing program at Columbia College Chicago, the internship program at Steppenwolf, Jackalope's inaugural Playwright's Lab, and participated in the Goodman's Criticism in a Changing America bootcamp. Erin is a company member with Brown Paper Box Co. and is currently pursuing her MSW at Loyola.
(Carolyn Molloy in TUTA’s THE EDGE OF OUR BODIES – photo credit: Anthony LaPenna)
TUTA’s production of Adam Rapp’s THE EDGE OF OUR BODIES is immersive from the get-go. We enter through the garage of TUTA’s new Ravenswood Manor space and end up in a small, intimate, almost makeshift theater, and immediately, our interest is piqued.
The first moments are wholly transporting, as we’re drawn into the world of sixteen-year-old Bernadette (Carolyn Molloy). In a detailed account of her school-forbidden trip into New York City, Molloy captivates her audience as she brings Rapp’s piercing imagery to life in what is, essentially, a 75-minute monologue. Together, her performance and his language create a disturbingly honest and delicate character in Bernadette, and the attention of the audience is palpable.
As auditions approach for Bernadette’s school play, Rapp borrows from Jean Genet’s The Maids, the haunting 1956 play loosely based on Christine and Lea Papin – two young maids who famously murdered their employer in France in 1933. In Genet’s play, Solange and Claire engage in sadomasochistic, ritualistic fantasies of murder. Bernie’s desire to play Claire colors her exploration of sexuality, adulthood, death and love as she acts out the story from her diary, embodying character after character with humor, honesty, and commitment.
Jacqueline Stone’s thoughtful direction brings Bernie’s diary to life with elegance and chaos. Rarely have I seen such a cohesive production. The design works to support Molloy’s performance, offering her the freedom to play in the layers of this piece – the layers, perhaps, of Bernadette’s psyche. Joe Court’s sound design is particularly chilling. Martin Andrew’s mesmerizing scenic design elevates the whole experience and will be hard to forget.
Though I’m still not sure I understood it all, I left the theater deeply affected. This is a brave production of a haunting play and is not to be missed.
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