Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Tanya Barfield has written a nonlinear drama about the highs and lows of Erica and Vicky's 24-year marriage. The one act-drama goes forward, pauses, and goes backward in rapid scenes. It does take a little while to get use to at first, but with Jessica Holt's terrific direction and two excellent actresses it goes smoothly.
Erica and Vicky meet on the job. Erica, an intellectual who wants to be a professor of English, is a temp worker assigned to a foundation where Vicky is the department supervisor. Vicky, who has just come out of a straight relationship, is more pragmatic in their relationship. We see the couple falling in love, calling it quits, getting back together, having two children who get married, and growing old. All of this is shown in quick, brisk scenes with mostly one-line dialogue, and in no particular order.
Bright Half Life has many wonderful scenes: Erica and Vicky on a Ferris wheel, and Erica has a fear of heights; Erica flying a kite that gives her a pleasing high; and both buying a mattress. All of this plays out on the intimate 96-seat black-box stage of the Rueff theatre which is part of ACT's new alternate Strand Theatre. The two actresses perform on Erik Flatmo's spare set with a handsome sky-blue platform that curves abruptly upward on the back wall of the three-sided configuration.
Sara Nina Hayon as Vicky and Lisa Anne Porter as Erica are excellent in their roles. This production might not work nearly as well without the performances of these actresses. They are very impressive at reading one another in many breakneck-speed scenes. There is certainly chemistry between the two as they jump from scene to scene, emotion to emotion, with total eloquence. Jessica Holt's direction is fast paced.
Bright Half Life plays through December 6, 2015, at the Rueff, ACT's Strand Theatre, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org Coming up next is Jessica Hagedorn Dogeaters opening on Febuary 3rd.