A new play by Lindsey Ferrentino offers an interesting evening of theater. It addresses how persons with disabilities (in this case Down Syndrome) were treated back in the 1950’s and how many years later siblings try to correct what was casually accepted so many decades ago. It wisely neither excuses institutionalizing children nor condones it but looks at it honestly through the defining family. However, the script does rely too often on returning to the same well for jokes to keep the evening light enough to address the tougher issues.
What really sets the production apart is the casting of an actress with Down Syndrome in the central role. At first it seems like stunt casting that makes one feel uncomfortable, but soon Jamie Brewer pulls you in and you want to spend more time with her. (New York has had quite the run of hiring actually disabled actors instead of having them portrayed by regular actors. I’ve seen a couple of Deaf West productions and the performance of Madison Ferris in the recent Glass Menagerie remounting was riveting.)
The closing monologue is both impressive and slightly off kilter but the play is definitely worth seeing for the change it represents and the consistent talent of the performers. And one thing that is clear throughout the performance is that Ms. Ferrentino has great insight into the situation and treats the character of Amy with tenderness and appreciation. Go Amy.
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NEXT WEEK: LOTS to talk about!