Duke Theater, Stunning
I read two reviews on the play Stunning and felt compelled to go. I took my Dad and his wife. I had never been to the Duke Theater before which is a small theater, 199 seats, on 42nd Street, connected with Lincoln Center geared towards emerging playwrights. Great venue.
The play, Stunning, is about a Syrian Jewish family living in Brooklyn. The main character, who is a 16 year old girl, Lily, has just married a middle aged man, is an incredible actress (Cristin Milioti). She is a bit shell shocked and uneducated as she has known this man since she was 12. As much as Lily wants to be part of the world she is in, she seems to be uncomfortable and not sure about it. She has had no life experience, her education ceased when she was about 12 and she really doesn't even like her husband. Her role is to now have as many children as possible Yet, she is a child playing a grown-up.
Lily hires a maid, an African American, named Blanche (Charlayne Woodard). She is also a fantastic actress. Blanche tries to open Lily's eyes to the world, teach her that she can take control of her own destiny. But, at the end of the day, can she?
On the drive out to the beach this weekend, Emily and I were discussing religion. She doesn't understand why anyone would be so religious. She understands the community aspects but sees that religion has caused more trouble ( Middle East ) than it is worth and who is to say if religion actually is real. We had an interesting conversation about it and although she didn't see the play, I told her about it. Lily, the main character, as much as she wanted to leave the life that she had been born in to, she couldn't. Where would she go, her family would consider her dead, she would have no support system, she had no education, etc. It takes a pretty strong independent person to be able to cut those ties. Emily wondered if another 100 years from now we will still be seeing the Hasidic Jews roaming through Williamsburg as we did the other night. Who knows?
As much as the play had a bit of a mixed message, the characters were all held back by where they came from and who they were. The stage set which was also well done was completely white and every piece of furniture continued to change at each act like transformers.
Stunning, is David Adjmi's, the playwright's, New York debut. Impressive.