Review: The Fall to Earth
A mother and daughter face ugly family truths in this hard-hitting drama.
Mon Jan 23 2012
Photograph: John Quilty
The Fall to Earth
The Fall to Earth at 59E59
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Originally mounted by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 2004, Joel Drake Johnson's dysfunctional-family drama is exactly the kind of play the famed company favors: potent, devastating and unsentimental, with an abundance of meaty exchanges for strong actors like the excellent ones here. Chatterbox Fay (Hedwall, superb) and her chilly daughter Rachel (Curtsinger, cofounder of InProximity, the troupe behind this production) trade awkward pleasantries and nasty barbs in an economy hotel room. It's clear they don't see each other much—Fay's never met her grandson or even seen his photo—but they've come together to claim the body of Kenny, Rachel's brother. His death in an unnamed Podunk and the concern of an insecure local policewoman (Campbell) serve as the catalysts for some disturbing revelations about who these ladies really are and what they're capable of.
You've probably seen people like these before, but rarely so powerfully written and portrayed. Johnson's naturalistic dialogue and Joe Brancato's meticulous direction prize characters over plot, and the three performers make the troubles of these little women seem like Greek tragedy. While certainly not groundbreaking theater, it's the kind of stuff that leaves you wiping your eyes and longing to go home and hug your loved ones. The Fall to Earth makes you feel its impact.