Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: When the Past Comes Back

The past, no matter how much we try to bury it, always comes back when we least expect it. In Susan Jennifer Polese's short drama Under the One Time Sky, a man from the past returns to the place he once called home to check on a woman more than a decade after a traumatic event.
Under the One Time Sky is a language driven two-hander that reconnects two friends turned strangers in a coincidental meeting to discuss a difficult day of the past. While it unfolds in a slow manner, the event in question is known almost instantly. What begins as two people reminiscing about good times turns into a battle of will and whys. Polese's script is filled with poetic language, planting metaphors in every speech. But when Christine and Dwight finally give title to the rape, the poetic nature of the dialogue lacks sincerity. Rather than watching two people rehash the past, you listen to the direction the metaphor is about to take, though some are seen a mile away. Despite the language, what Polese does quite well is she allows the story to stray away from being preachy. We learn why Dwight did what he did and remained silent. We understand the struggle Christina has been living with. Though the answer is contrived, discovering a genuine "why this moment" answer to Polese's timing will give the story a stronger arc.
Building an instant relationship despite virtually being strangers to one another was one of the most important connections Christine and Dwight needed to overcome. Thankfully, the chemistry between Adam La Faci and Michelle Concha worked. La Faci and Concha were truly like those friends who can pick up after years of removal. What La Faci and Concha did struggle with was making the language genuine. In a realistic play, it’s hard to make the poetic nature of the script feel colloquial. Because the difficulty was evident, some of the stakes felt forced.
Putting this play on its feet can go one of two ways. The easy way where the characters stand their ground or the hard way where there is action and movement, but strategic ones at that. Director Leta Tremblay picked the hard way and it paid off. Tremblay painted a visceral image through her staging. Tremblay brought the past to the present, even if it was hard to watch.
Under The One Time Sky is an important story that is presented well. Currently only an act, you almost wonder what another scene or two would look like. And maybe another character from the story. Polese has the foundation to plant something that can grow into something big and beautiful.