Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Lovely Waltz With Love


Two wounded Souls Find Balm in “Tally’s Folly”

By Skip Sheffield

The ironic joke in the title “Tally’s Folly” is that what transpires in this Pulitzer Prize-winning memory play is not folly at all, but amazing good fortune of two kindred spirits finding their destiny.
Lanford Wilson’s uplifting 1979 work “Tally’s Folly” has settled in for a run through Nov. 11 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
Lanford Wilson broke with some theater traditions to create this two-character “waltz.” The male partner, Matt Friedman (newcomer Brian Wallace) breaks the “fourth wall” by addressing the audience directly at the outset, and explains exactly what will happen within the space of just 97 minutes.
“We have 97 minutes to change lives,” Matt explains.
The female partner is Sally Tally (Erin Joy Schmidt). Sally is the 31-year-old “spinster” daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Lebanon, Missouri.
Sally had a brief fling a year ago with Matt, who dropped in from the “big city” of St. Louis. Matt and Sally could not be less alike on the surface. He is a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant scarred by the war. Sally is from blue-blood Southern ruling class.
The lovingly referred to “folly” is an ornate but crumbling boathouse, constructed by Sally’s eccentric uncle a generation ago. Now the boathouse is in ruins, but it is the designated meeting place of the wayward lovers.
As Matt tells us, the boathouse, created by ingenious set designer Michael Amico, is more like a third character. We will see why as stubborn Matt, a 42-year-old accountant with a mind like a computer, works away on reluctant, insecure Sally.
Like Matt, Sally is wounded, both physically and emotionally. She works as a nurse caring for wounded soldiers but her own wounds are untreated. As the layers of her defenses are peeled back we see the healing glimmer of hope that real love provides.
“Tally’s Folly” had a flurry of activity after it won the Pulitzer Prize (I saw a couple different productions), then inexplicably it was put on the shelf. Like the perennial classic “The Fantasticks” early this year, “Tally’s Folly” is meant to be seen. This production is lovingly realized by director J. Barry Lewis, his cast and crew, including lighting designer Ron Burns and sound designer Matt Corey. These last two elements are crucial, as the story is set on July 4 in the year 1944. It is a happy Independence Day indeed.
Tickets are $55 ($10 students) and may be reserved by calling 561-514-4042.

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