BWW Review: CLOSE AND FAR AWAY Presented Online in Skylight Theatre Company's New Web Reading Series
Inspired by an artistic community of theatre makers in response to the need to take live theater online during this time of social distancing, Skylight Theatre Company created its new Web Reading Series beginning on March 26, 2020, bringing together some of LA's most talented writers, directors and actors for weekly presentations of uplifting works, written specifically for this medium. Each play is FREE, FUN and presented LIVE on Thursdays at 3pm on You Tube and Facebook with direct links and more information available at https://skylighttheatre.org/event/skylight-live/
I tuned in on Thursday, May 28 to enjoy the 15 minute, two-woman play "CLOSE AND FAR AWAY" written by Cory Hinkle and directed by Elina de Santos, featuring Melissa Paladino and Jennifer Pollono as two old friends who reconnect via Zoom during quarantine. But it's very apparent from the start that technology and distance are the least of their problems. You see, it turns out the two women were roommates in grad school but have not spoken in over three years. And like so many of us who are now reconnecting online just to fuel our emotional need to be in the presence of other people, they soon discover how differently each is dealing with the isolation imposed upon them.
Outgoing Jennifer Pollono excitedly shares news of the book she is writing and how much hope she feels is now in the world, especially since the air quality has greatly improved since traffic has lessened. And since she has worked alone from home for quite a while, life goes on as it always has for her without a lot of emotional turmoil as she is very focused and makes list of what needs to be done - and takes care of it. She pauses every so often to sip a thick green concoction from a glass Mason jar which allows her friend to get a few words in edgewise.
However, her friend Melissa Paladino bemoans not being able to be with people, go to her job, or escape the confines of her new apartment where she is isolating on her own. Paladino expertly channels the sadness and depression overwhelming her, drowning her sadness in the large mug occupying her hands, most likely to keep from wringing them over the lack of control she feels she has in her life. It's a wonder how two women with such different outlooks on life could ever have been friends. But of course, the world has changed drastically since they last spoke.
As the women authentically share their lives, often talking about how they wish they had stayed in touch over the years, it soon becomes apparent they are about to meet in the middle from opposite ends of the range of human emotions. In fact, the once upbeat writer soon finds herself falling into the depressed state of her friend, losing her hopeful insight on humanity. But in the meantime, her lonely friend accepts that a bit of hope really is in the world and winds up being very excited at re-connecting with her friend. However, by the end, it is very apparent these two may soon lose touch again, given just how different their lives have become.CLOSE AND FAR AWAY resonates with familiarity given how living in isolation while missing the need to connect with others is now the reality for everyone in world. And thanks to Cory Hinkle's insightful dialogue, Elina de Santos' fast-paced direction, and the skill with which the two talented actors inhabit their roles, this play is a perfect way to laugh at and with each other right now. And be sure to stay for the Q&A session afterwards during which questions are taken from the at-home audience by the production team and cast.
More information about the multi-award-winning Skylight Theatre, recognized as a "powerhouse of new play development" by Dramatist Magazine, and its new Skylight Live web series may be found online at the following sites: