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Wakefield; or Hello, Sophia 

Playwright Brian Thorstenson's script picks up where Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story left off

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008

Central Works Theater Ensemble and playwright Brian Thorstenson bring out the best in each other in this elegant 70-minute production about how to reignite a marriage thought lost forever. The play picks up where Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Wakefield" left off, as a middle-aged man suddenly returns to his wife after just as suddenly walking out on her two decades before. As the couple, Julian Lopéz-Morillas and Jan Zvaifler deftly express the longing and confusion of their unexpected reunion, mining Thorstenson's deceptively simple text for the heartbreak that lies just beneath the surface of their halting or mundane words. The play sometimes gets stuck in their inability to communicate, a choice that is true to the mood of Hawthorne's original story, but ends up keeping us from fully engaging with these two lost souls. Yet we are pulled back into the play by moments of theatrical fantasy, where both husband and wife imagine what their lives could be in contrast to what they actually are. They're the kind of fantasies we all get stuck in, and the story of this couple learning how to let go of these what-if scenarios beautifully captures the struggle we all face to accept the flawed lives we have and love them all the same.

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Molly Rhodes


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