If you don’t believe that opposites attract, a new show in town may convince you otherwise.
NOVA NightSky Theater’s “Talley’s Folly” presents Sally Talley and Matt Friedman, a more unlikely couple than you can imagine, he, a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania, age 42, and she, a respectable Methodist nurse from Middle America, age 31, who does all she can to offend and shoo Matt away, resisting his persistence.
Each of the characters elicits deep, dark secrets the other holds to expose vulnerabilities and fears. For Sally, that’s the fear of being disappointed in love again, afraid to step into another embrace which may end in separation, afraid of failing to meet family expectations. For Matt, it’s his family’s background.
On July 4, 1944 the two rendezvous from the year before, at the same meeting place, an old Talley boathouse in Missouri (the playwright’s home state) to talk and try to settle differences.
In 1980 the show won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. It’s the second of a trilogy by Lanford Wilson, the others, “Talley & Son” and “The Fifth of July.”
Jaclyn Robertson, who plays Sally and is the show’s producing director, emailed: “We decided to perform this show because we fell in love with the script and the depth of the characters. It’s not often that community theaters choose two person plays, but since we have a small space, we felt like this would be a good fit for us.”
Remnants of a boathouse fill the set situated on an elevated wooden platform in a clever design. (The creative team prides itself, rightly so, on its recycled, thrifted and upcycled props.)
Directors Ward Kay and Melody Dillon have the couple circling each other, as in a verbal boxing ring which the boathouse becomes.
The acting is superb. Adam Ressa (the design and technical director) is Matt who, in a monologue, moves and talks fast to the audience, introducing the show’s background and the length: 97 minutes, without intermission.
When she enters, Sally wants Matt to know she had no interest in him whatsoever (hmmmm) and calls him several names during their discourse. The words she hurls hurt! But he wants this girl! His determination, drive, and perhaps some masochism keep him focused on the target.
Robertson is quite adept at changing her facial expression to express Sally’s inner feelings, becoming more distressed as they discuss, twisting her fingers to match her mental state. Sally constantly brings up her family and their resistance to anyone in their family who’s as different from them as Matt is.
What do prejudice and intolerance have to do with it?
As the minutes pass, the space between the two begins to shrink; Sally’s defense weakens.
Although billed as a comedy, “Talley’s Folly” is a dark one with some humorous lines, mostly by Matt.
Costuming is a bit perplexing. A long sleeve white dress shirt, tie, dress pants and suspenders at an old boathouse? But Matt is an accountant, after all. Sally wears a pretty new dress to impress, but she denies it.
At the end, joy comes in the morrow.
Other Nightsky creative team members are: Sarah Baczewski, stage manager; Elizabeth Earles, design intern, Kathleen Kay and Mary Fettes, house managers.
The final performances of this one act thinking person’s play are April 20 — 23, Thursday through Saturday, at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. at 1057 West Broad Street, #216 Falls Church 22046. Second level. No handicapped accessibility. Park in the rear. All tickets (with fees), $25.63. www.novanightskytheater.com.