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BWW Review: Syracuse Stage Presents TALLEY'S FOLLY

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O’Connell and Hamill have dazzled Syracuse Stage audiences before and it is a delight to see them once again onstage.

BWW Review: Syracuse Stage Presents TALLEY'S FOLLY
Kate Hamill and Jason O'Connell in the Syracuse Stage production of
Talley's Folly.
Photo by Mike Davis.

Syracuse Stage is one of only a few theatres across the country currently producing stage productions. The first production of their mainstage season is Talley's Folly under the always superb and detailed direction of Syracuse Stage's Artistic Director Robert Hupp. This fully staged production of Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play has been filmed and is now available to patrons online through video on demand streaming.

Talley's Folly is a romantic two person play. It features Jason O'Connell as Matt Friedman and Kate Hamill as Sally Talley. O'Connell and Hamill have dazzled Syracuse Stage audiences before and it is a delight to see them once again onstage. Offstage the two are married.

The theme of hope and love is at the center of the play. It takes place on a single night, July 4, 1944, one month after D-Day. A Jewish accountant in his 40's from St. Louis, named Matt Friedman, is in love for the first time. He has traveled many miles to propose to Sally Talley, a woman ten years younger than him, who lives in the middle of the Christian farm belt. For him to travel so far and propose to a woman who comes across as not interested in him seems crazy. Matt arrives at the family home and is met at the door by Sally's brother holding a shotgun because Jews are not welcome at their home. Sally, a nurse's aide, was not at home when Matt arrived, but still working at the hospital, caring for wounded soldiers that had just returned from battle. Since Matt did not receive the most welcoming greeting, he retreats to a Victorian folly of a boathouse on the river close to Sally's home. Sally then finds him and is certainly not pleased, at first.

Conversation then unfolds between Sally and Matt on the moonlit night (lighting design by Dawn Chang) in the rundown, but still beautiful, Victorian folly of a boathouse. The conversation becomes emotional as the unlikely couple slowly starts to understand one another's hearts. Love is of course discussed since Matt did make the trip to propose, but it goes much deeper into what is lurking in their past. Both have pasts that have incredible sorrow and hurt. This sorrow and hurt has caused walls to be built up in the lives of Matt and Sally. The hope and possibility of love seems to be something both want as their romantic and emotional conversation takes place under the moonlight on the river.

Jason O'Connell as Matt Friedman captures your attention as soon as he opens the play on Czerton Lim's always detailed and breathtaking set design. O'Connell's chemistry with Hamill, range, subtle comedic timing, and powerful line delivery is without a doubt captivating. The emotion O'Connell uses in his line delivery is chilling.

Hamill's intelligence, energy, intensity, and consistency take center stage in her role as Sally. Hamill's powerful performance brings the emotional character of Sally beautifully to life. The conversations that take place between Matt and Sally in such a time is chilling. Director Hupp certainly had the right couple for this production.

Syracuse Stage's fully staged production of Talley's Folly captures all the artistic elements beautifully. As per usual, Syracuse Stage did not disappoint. I wish, like many others, to be sitting in the Archbold theater, however, I am thankful that a beautiful play, featuring a talented cast, is still being produced. Black Cub Productions used a three-camera set up to bring this chilling, emotional, and beautiful production to the homes of patrons. A wider audience now has the chance to see great performances produced by Syracuse Stage. Director Hupp's heart, detail, and vision for this production and the stellar cast makes this a must see. Sit back, relax in your own home, and take advantage of this chance to support great theater.

Running time: 97 minutes according to the script.

Syracuse Stage's production of Talley's Folly takes place in the Archbold Theatre located in Syracuse, New York and was filmed by Black Cub Productions and is now available for streaming through November 22, 2020. To purchase "tickets" for this production and upcoming filmed productions at Syracuse Stage click here.


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From This Author Natasha Ashley