After more than fifteen years, working mom Mary Wentworth (Heidi Sulzman) is finally about to overcome her dysnomia. Mother of two and wife of more than twenty years, the ache in Mary’s gut is ready to boil over and she is desperate to give a name to this elusive anxiety so that she can finally release it. Complacent would be the word for Henry Wentworth (Trevor H. Olsen), Mary’s emotionally-absent husband who avoids having meaningful conversation with his wife at all costs. Defiant is the definitive modifier for the delinquent eldest son in the family, John (Ryan Stathos) who lives in a permanent state of angst (ah teenagers). Jodi (Isabella Palmieri), the family’s youngest daughter quickly proves to be predictable eccentric. She is a little girl who spokes with a wisdom beyond her years, yet still displaying all the sycophantic behaviors of a child constantly jocking to be the family favorite. Ladies and Gentleman, the Wentworths, the model modern family.
It takes quite a few words to describe neighbor Carol (Jessie Warner): suspicious, spastic, present, supportive. Carol is simultaneously convinced that her husband Scott is having an affair just as she decides to begins one, but she is the one friend to Mary who is always there. The word for Scott (Monroe Makowsky) is quite possible average. He’s just a guy, trying to do the right thing, trying to handle the curve balls life throws at him (i.e. a jealous, demanding wife and a lesbian daughter) with some measure of good humor and grace. And finally, there is the lesbian daughter herself, Sam (Marja-Lewis Ryan). College senior Sam is just real; sometimes awkward, unassuming, intuitive and out.
Mary’s growing anxiety reaches a fever pitch until a conversation with young Sam helps her find clarity; helps her momentarily conquer her years long dysnomia. She comes to the realization that she is not bored nor is she apathetic; Mary is stuck, in her life, in her emotionless relationships, because she is gay.
So what is a mother and wife like Mary to do when she is surrounded by all these people who know and embrace what they are – for better or worst – but is only figuring out in midlife who and what she is? Does she have the right to try and reclaim the life she has missed out on?
Dysnomia is a very thoughtful play that I believe is better suited to be called a dramedy. There are wonderful moments of levity and revelation. which are all weighted in this traumatic emotional transition, for Mary as well as for the rest of her family. Sometimes clever and sometimes heartbreaking, Writer Marja-Lewis Ryan has crafted an wonderfully rich script that plays with great authenticity - much like the character Sam that she portrays in the piece. The text deftly reminds us of the power of the spoken word and illuminated the fact that action and inaction can carry significant, life-changing consequences.
At a ninety minute running time, the show is performed in two acts and there is a bit of a fight to rebuild momentum in the second act. However, Heidi Sulzman gives an enthralling performance. She is both engaging and vulnerable, easily leading this ensemble through in an elegant, sensitive piece.
The World Premiere of Dysnomia is currently running through August 21, 2011 @:
The Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Boulevard
(at Santa Monica & El Centro)
Los Angeles, CA 90038-1703
For more information call: (323) 469-998
Fridays, Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 7pm
Photo Credit: Marja-Lewis Ryan