This Thing of Darkness

Craig Lucas and David Schulner

Atlantic Theater Company USA

(2002)

Review by Catherine Lamm

Normally, flashbacks have proved problematic in the theatre. Mr. Lucas and Mr. Schulner have found a very unique and successful way of solving the problem. They have examined the relationship of two men, Abbey and Donald, at various stages of their lives.

In a remote cabin during a storm these 21 year olds begin to examine their relationships to each other and their place in the world. The second scene finds Donald returning to visit Abbey, now the father of two grown sons. The third finds them at the end of life. This is doen seamlessly by the authors and director. It is so unique and takes some time to figure out.

The script is not without problems. Some of the problems, I fear, are the two authors' voices trying to find harmony. Through some literary rugged terrain, this cast moves between characters. Mary McCann as the middle aged Donald is the most interesting to watch. Jordan Lage makes the rather dull foil of Frank (the father in the first scene) and Donald (in the second scene) believable.

Chris Messina and Daniel Eric Gold are fun to watch in their tense and intense discoveries of the younger Abbey and Donald.

Always interesting to watch are Ralph Waite (the older Frank in the second scene and Donald in the third) and Larry Keith (Molly in the second scene and Abbey in the third). This is an actors' dream of a play with all of the character changes.

Although the cast is ably directed by Craig Lucas, some script problems might have been identified and worked out by a director who was not the playwright.

I admit to a fondness for the Atlantic Theater. The space is friendly and open with its exposed brick wall, and the production values are interesting. The productions always seem to use the space well.