Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Powerful and Captivating Production of Any Given Day
The Magic is introducing (in this country) Linda McLean's bold new play Any Given Day, a portrait of modern, urban life and the transitory nature of love and happiness. The play premiered at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2010 where it won several awards for best drama. It is comprised of two inter-connected stories that take place at 2pm on opposite ends of Glasgow, and explores how, in a moment, everything can change. The amazing 80-minute drama has idiosyncratic language and penetrating situations that will stick with you for a long time.
Linda McLean's writing is tenacious and the dialogue is spare. In some scenes the writing is reminiscence of Harold Pinter dialogues with long pauses.
The opening scene takes place on the "wrong side" of a Glasgow Counsel House where Sadie (Amy Kossow) and Bill (Christopher Mc Hale) are living in a thrift shop furnished flat. These flats were homes for "mentally defectives" released into the community when many institutions were closed in the early 1990s. Both had shock treatments when they were in these institutions and their crisp and short speech shows it.
Sadie is lugubriously corpulent, intellectually limited and fearful of going outside the apartment, yet she has warmth and deep understanding. She is suspicious that someone is always threatening, but she has great pleasure in going to the flat's window to wave at every passerby. She is a little girl in the body of an overweight woman. Sadie finds some emotional connection with her gruff husband Bill who is barely less perplexed than she is. He is somewhat more advanced since he has the ability to solve problems and pay bills. He does care for her, calming her hysteria and pampering her uncertainty.
The terror arrives and the audience is shocked as to what happens; they are allowed to think about what has happen for a five minute scene change. It is a shocking ending to the scene.
Scene two takes place in the beautiful polished-wood Dave's Tavern on the other side (the good side) of town. The audience sees Dave (James Carpenter), the owner of the establishment, and Jackie (Stacy Ross), who works for him. Both want better things in life and cautiously tell each other about their dreams and hopes, even through their pasts haunt them. Jackie was a nurse and has a son with emotional problems in University. They are estranged due to a remark she made to him. However, on this day at 2 pm he has called Dave just to say "I am having one of my good days." He does not want to talk to his mother, and this sets off a lot of emotions beneath the composure that Jackie tries to maintain. The dialogue between Jackie and Dave is about their hopes, apprehensions and even plain spoken sex talk.
James Carpenter and Stacy Ross deliver McLean's spare poetry beautifully. It's a masterful exercise in elusiveness and restraint. Amy Kossow is astonishing as Sadie, and Christopher McHale equally brilliant as Bill. Both speak in an excellent Scot dialect and, although the characters are mentally challenged, they are amazingly communicative. Her little laugh is priceless. McHale projects a childlike delight when in conversation with Sadie. Patrick Alparone gives a terrifying cameo performance.
Director Jon Tracy skillfully sets all of the play's movements and silences to make it a night to remember. Michael Locher's sets are excellent, especially the detailed all-wood tavern. Christine Crook's costumes and York Kennedy's lighting are assets to the production.
Any Given Day has been extended through April 29 at the Magic Theatre, Building D, 3rd floor, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org