Three weeks ago, I was in the front row of the Pinnacle Playhouse in Belleville, watching excellent actors perform the play Jake’s Women. Last night – same play, more excellent actors, front row at The Arts Project in London. The same smile on my face. The same standing ovation.
I loved the different interpretations of the two directors, and of the 16 actors (8 x 2). But something astounding happened last night … tears throughout the auditorium, and almost tears on the stage. The scene was between mother and daughter, a reunion of types. An imaginary conversation that was dreamed up by Jake, a writer. Julie was Jake’s first wife. She was killed in a car accident at age 35. When she was 25, she gave birth to their daughter Molly. The conversation I witnessed was with Molly at 21 and Julie at 35. It never happened in real life. It never could.
Imagine Julie standing back in the shadows in Jake’s living room. In comes Molly. Jake to Molly: “There’s somebody here.” Molly and Julie’s eyes meet. Julie: “Hello, Molly.” Molly is frightened and confused, and then … “It’s all right. Now I understand. Hello, Mom.” Supreme communion from eyes to eyes. Choked voices. Reddened faces. We the audience get it. There is no longer a play. That is my wife on the stage, and my daughter, and I cry. What a privilege it must be to create love in the theatre, and to have every person in the room feel it. That’s what happened last night. Thank God I was there.