My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer. Flea Theater (see Off-Off Broadway). By Brian Watkins. Directed by Danya Taymor. With Layla Khoshnoudi, Katherine Folk-Sullivan. Running time: 1hr 10mins. No intermission.
My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer: In brief
Two squabbling prairie sisters try to tame their mother's last surviving sheep in a suspenseful new play by Brian Watkins, directed by Danya Taymor.
My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer: Review by Helen Shaw
Brian Watkins shows a dizzying level of control in his ghoulish, Plains-gothic My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer—a short, nasty thriller of riveting literary quality. Plays rarely scare us; the dramatic form usually has too much light and interaction for true creepiness. But by using bare-bones storytelling, Watkins (and Danya Taymor’s subterranean production) taps deep into reservoirs of dread.
In a sooty gloom, adult sisters tell us interlacing stories—sulky Hannah (Khoshnoudi) and good girl Sarah (Folk-Sullivan) have fallen afoul of each other and their unpleasant, housebound mother. Each is trapped in their podunk Colorado town, irritated by Mom’s pet sheep,Vicky, and vulnerable to the sanity-sapping vacuum of the prairie beyond.
As with many campfire horror stories, a bit of warm marshmallow (exquisitely timed throwaway humor by a dazzling Khoshnoudi) just makes the chill at our backs even colder. Director Taymor minimizes the theatrics (a shadow on a curtain, a candle guttering out), but the more she mutes things, the better we hear Watkins’s loud new theatrical voice.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE: This eerie domestic thriller hits home.
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