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"Do you know any people in our situation?"

"I wish I could just not wake up on another Sunday..."

Intimacy is defined as ... "close familiarity or friendship; closeness," it can also be defined as, "closeness of observation or knowledge of a subject."

Consent is defined as, "permission for something to happen or agreement to do something."

So what happens when consent isn't warranted, a trauma occurs, and it affects the entirety of the events that follow?

These questions and more are the thoughts that fill my mind upon exiting the theater following the opening night of Studio Grand Central's Second Season opener Something Clean by Selina Fillinger. Fillinger whose more recent work Potus is a smashing success on Broadway; penned this three-hander piece about a grieving mother who also is struggling with love and culpability. Her own struggle with intimacy is backlogged by trauma and has come to a crippling head not just on her inner self but on her marriage as well.

On its surface, we meet Charlotte, (Charlie for short) who is married to Doug and going about their day-to-day amidst unspeakable odds and trauma brought on by the actions of their 20-year-old son. The actions of the son have crippling effects on both parents publicly and intimately, and the overshadowing of grief that plagues the two slowly begins to define who they are. Worried about reporters and protestors beating at their door the couple pass each other in the hall, milling through their day-to-day trying to make ends meet. Knowing that every couple of weeks is visitation with their son, and counting down the days until his release.

Charlotte takes a volunteer position at a Sexual Assault Crisis Center alongside Joey another "Survivor" of Sexual Assault. In this instance, Survivor is used in parentheses as a way to not call them victims. So in between her volunteer work, and Doug coming home late we slowly begin to see the layers peeled back, and get an inner look into the grief of both the mother and father. Joey adds comic relief amidst the tension and allows Charlotte to begin to let down walls she has for so long been building up. It's when Charlotte's true identity is revealed that tests the true level of her and Joey's friendship.

As far as scripts go, Selina's writing is gripping, raw, searing, and emotionally driven to the point where you're left gutted upon exiting. With smart characters and sharply driven anecdotes behind each line, Something Clean is not for the weak. Selina goes for the jugular here and never holds back.

As Charlotte, Debbie Yones is astounding. Having previously experienced her work twice before in Rasheeda Speaking, and Breadcrumbs, Yones is on another plane entirely here. You feel her grief, and sense her deep inner trauma, and your heart aches in the moments with Doug, this role was made for her. There is a gripping moment in the latter part of the piece where she encounters a drunk man that will leave you with chills. At the top of her game, Debbie Yones as Charlotte is full of grief, pain, and anguish that only a mother can hold and she does so with gravitas.

Alan Mohney Jr., as Doug is the workaholic father who spends too much time at the office and not enough time dissecting the problems at home. On the same token, just as much as it is Charlotte's story, Doug is grieving too. He is not only struggling with the fact that his son is locked away but in the grand scheme of things he's almost fully lost his wife as well. He uses the office as his only escape, to break away from the pain of being at home. All he wants to do is kiss his wife, hold her, and do all a husband is supposed to do. The question remains, when does trauma begin to become too much of a trigger, and when do those reliant on trauma begin to embrace the crutch, instead of moving forward? Alan is exceptional here, and you feel his every intention from moment to moment clear, precise, and executed from the start to finish.

Troy Brooks as Joey is the comic relief of the piece. What makes his character so intriguing however is the trauma living deep under the surface. Unlike Charlotte, Joey has had time with his trauma, and the ability to reflect and grow beyond the reaches of it crippling him. So in this sense, it is good that Charlotte has Joey for these moments she cannot quite confide in her husband. Having never experienced Troy's work prior to this piece, he has exceptional stage presence and helps propel the through-line of the story forward. Troy is a great addition to this company.

On the technical side, the folks at Studio Grand Central achieve a lot for the intimate space in which they inhabit. All working together like a choreographed machine each part moving in sync to tell the story of these characters. All of this falls in the hands of a great director in Ward Smith who steers the ship with the finest of hands. There is a part early in the show in which both Joey and Charlotte are on the phone with their significant others and everything down to the smallest of details is executed perfectly. With a sharp eye for storytelling and a keen sense of staging Ward Smith has created an exceptional piece of art with Fillinger's words as the road map.

As the Technical Director Michael Horn helps place Selina Fillinger's story from page to stage and place the lives of the characters into our spectrum of observance. Creating a world unique to the world in which these characters reside is no small feat, especially in such an intimate space, and Michael and team execute this to the finest of details. As the Stage Manager, Anthony Gervais helps keep the show running smoothly, and Sound Design by Ward Smith blends the world of these characters together seamlessly.

Something Clean, is a strong opener for Studio Grand Central's second season and I for one am happy they are here and staking a claim on the arena. Becoming a namesake in any arena is no easy task, and the fine folks at Studio Grand Central have put their mark on the map. At the end of the day, it's all in the company you keep. Ward Smith and the folks of Off-Central Players are mighty fine ones to have around. You don't have to take my word for it, in fact, head on over to for tickets to Selina Fillinger's Something Clean, and see for yourself why this play, this cast, this production will leave you breathless.

PHOTO CREDIT: @DowntownCarol (Carol Gallagher)


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