Crawl, Fade to White
Tue Oct 21 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Troubled and precocious college dropout April (Jocelyn Kuritsky) is described to her mother, Louise (Carla Harting), as “stunningly brilliant”—a line that fits her creator, Sheila Callaghan. The odd characters populating Crawl, Fade to White frantically eat dirt and dance the Twist menacingly. Audiences trying to process this engagingly quirky new play might find themselves gaping “like they’re watching the cosmos disrobe.”
Flashbacks to Louise’s 15-year-old fling with the grubby Niko (Shawtane Monroe Bowen) alternate with scenes in the present, as April’s boyfriend, Nolan (Matthew roi Berger), misbehaves, and the relationship between mother and daughter leaps out like the hidden image in a stereograph. This sense of a lost object suddenly and strikingly coming into focus—like the fingerprint of April’s absent father on the antique lamp that drives the plot—is accentuated by Louise’s creepy, cryptic neighbors Dan (Matthew Lewis) and Fran (Black-Eyed Susan). These two lost their twins years ago and now covet April as their own.Director Paul Willis grounds the surreal moments with vivid physicality and charged silences; he also uses unconventional spaces (such as a balcony stairwell) to emphasize distance. Meanwhile, the meticulous cast works to underscore the emotion beneath the Sarah Ruhl–like affectations: Louise’s sacrifices are real and so is April’s suffering. Characters may muse that light behaves impossibly, but as far as playwrights unpacking complex ideas, Callaghan provides a shining example.