Thursday, March 12, 2015

Death Tax at Pillsbury House Theatre

Can I say?  I lurve Pillsbury House Theatre. Every time I go to their space, I'm impressed by their amazing community vibe, services and outreach. Also, I LOVE that there's a speaker from backstage in the ladies' room. Someone needs to do an audio art installation there.

Photo by Keri Pickett
This past Sunday, we saw Death Tax at Pillsbury House Theatre (now through April 4).  Don't let the somber title put you off.  Written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Hayley Finn, this is an absorbing and often funny play.  As the Director's Note reads:
"Within the confined space of a nursing home, the play raises large ethical questions. What is the power of money? How does it affect our lives and our relationship to our family? How does it affect the care we receive? What is the value we place on living? The play looks at these questions through myriad vantage points."
photo by Keri Pickett
Beautifully acted by a cast of four, and performed on a spare stage in Pillsbury House's intimate space, I was absolutely riveted by this play. I loved the naturalistic speech, and the very realistic ways we follow the thoughts and progression of character.

I've seen Regina Marie Williams in a ton of theater (most recently in The Color Purple at Park Square Theater), but she utterly disappeared into her role at Tina, nurse to Wendy Lehr's dying patient. She was amazing to watch. Clarence Wethern, playing her boss and more, provides a complex but fascinating portrayal of a man in over his head. With impeccable timing, he adds immediate depth, complexity and welcome humor to the play. Wendy Lehr and Tracey Maloney create the complex relationship of mother and daughter with ease and edge.

In these days, as baby boomers age and the issues surrounding death and quality of life are everywhere we look, this play is timely and thought-provoking--and wonderfully enjoyable to watch. (90 minutes, no intermish--yay!)

Side note: I'm so thrilled that Tracey Scott Wilson's play Buzzer (which had its World Premiere at Pillsbury House Theatre) is now playing at the prestigious Public Theater in New York City. Look for another Tracey Scott Wilson play at Pillsbury House this fall:

Second side note: How cool is it that Pillsbury House is doing workshops on Health Care Directives and Estate Planning in conjunction with Death Tax?  So cool.