At the Lortel. A new monologue by Neil LaBute. Lasting about one hour. About the same time a psychiatrist would allot a patient to spill ones heart out. In this case Mrs. Johnson. A high school English/Drama teacher and guidance counselor of thirty years alone with her memories in her office someplace in the Midwest.
Nervous. Tentative at first. Looking back. Talking to the audience. Baring her innermost thoughts and deepest feelings about teaching, her husband Eric, her student boyfriend Tommy and “What is the weight of a lie? as if she were speaking with her shrink. Attempting to sort out her life. Her complicated life. Played superbly by Judith Light. This is a must see performance.
The monologue is extremely well written with detailed direction by Leigh Silverman – leaving no nuance unexplored. Excellent lighting design by Matt Frey acts as a silent soundtrack adding atmosphere with haunting effects. The subdued gray and burgundy outfit by Emily Rebholz for Mrs. Johnson is a perfect cover-up for what will boil to the surface as she recounts her past indiscretion and its aftermath.
Mrs. Johnson is torn. She is tortured and trapped with her feelings for both her husband – a lawyer and the affair she had with Tommy – her student. She is white. They are not. She loves them both in different ways. Why did it happen? How did it happen?
You must see this show produced by MCC to feel its full and long lasting effects. And be quick. It is only scheduled to run until October 16th.
Not much else can be divulged in this review except for the fact that the vivid, emotional and truly honest performance of Judith Light as the tormented and otherwise normal Mrs. Johnson is phenomenal.
You will be drawn into her story immediately. Riveted to every revelation to the very end. Which is handled with loving care.
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