There are not many consummate artists that can stride out on stage, sit down behind a desk, roll up their sleeves, eyeball the audience and dazzle us with a low key, yet passionate and honest performance that simply touches us deeply. Lynn Redgrave is such an artist.
In her one woman play, NIGHTINGALE, which she has authored and stars in, Lynn Redgrave is a master of the art of acting. And writing. As she starts to tell us the story of her always cold and never happy maternal grandmother, Beatrice Kempson and her daughter Rachel (Lynn Redgrave’s mother) while weaving in parallel stories about herself – it’s as though she has opened the manuscript on her desk to tell us an adult bedtime story. Comforting us with her wonderful voice and sharing some factual and imagined stories to bring her characters to vivid life with an inflection here, another vocal register used there, a look, a silence. Telling the tale as sweetly as the nightingale sings. Giving us all something to ponder about relationships, love, death and understanding.
NIGHTINGALE is a triumph of understatement. A fascinating look into the life of Lynn Redgrave and her relatives. Bursting with compassion and humor we begin to understand how women from that era went into loveless marriages, not knowing what to expect on their wedding night, having children, loosing children, discovering jealously and what love really means.
The writing itself is beautiful. Her choice of words conjures up just the right images. Her specific descriptive passages enable us to see and feel exactly what she is describing. And feeling. There is great structure and a gorgeous rhythm to the piece. The simple use of “tick” “tock” “tick” “tock” says volumes.
Referring to her open text makes it feel even more intimate. Lynn Redgrave shares her insights into life and love with an exiting mix of theatrical tales which highlight the pain and guilt we sometimes feel while getting through life. Life, with its ups and downs and unexpected turns in the road. Not only famous people share these experiences. We all do. I think that’s what makes this 85 minute memoir so compelling.
Beautifully directed by Joseph Hardy with a picture perfect postcard set by Tobin Ost and evocative lighting by Rui Rita make NIGHTINGALE the very special event performance to see.
Manhattan Theatre Club – New York City Center Stage 1 www.mtc-nyc.org