By: Patrick Christiano
In Lauren Yee’s quirky new play, The Hatmaker’s Wife, directed by Rachel Chavkin, a young woman, a copy editor named in the program only as voice, moves into a new home with her boyfriend Meckel expecting domestic bliss, but instead has trouble focusing on her relationship. The bizarre new home appears determined to help and soon the walls are literally talking to her. Impersonated by Megan Byrne the walls speak in an odd middle European sounding accent that lends a surreal affect to the unfolding story.
Soon the wall starts spewing out typewritten pages of a magical tale about the former elderly residents of the house, a renowned hatmaker and his neglected wife. The hatmaker has not only forgotten his wife’s name, but has also lost his favorite hat. When his wife leaves, he appears more concerned about his missing hat than his departed wife.
Yee imposes the hatmaker’s story, like a Jewish folktale complete with a golem, over the young couple’s struggles. The overlapping stories have little but the pull of love to keep the evening afloat, while the wall dispenses playful wisdom.
The young couple is played by Stephanie Wright Thompson and Peter Friedman, while the elderly former residents are portrayed by Marcia Jean Kurtz and David Margulies, who bicker gamely in a heavy Yiddish accent similar to the wall.
The evening helmed by Rachel Chavkin, who did marvlous work with "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812," is not as successful here. The story about love and loss is confusing and more frustrating than engaging. The odd Yiddish accent is off putting, and you are never sure what the characters want because they are playing general qualities instead of specific actions. Maybe everyone is a bit confused.
The creative team features scenic design by Carolyn Mraz, lighting design by Amith Chandrashaker, costume design by Michael Krass and sound design with original music by Ryan Rumery.
The Hatmaker’s Wife is now playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues Monday – Saturday @ 7:30pm through September 21.
Photos: Carol Rosegg Follow Us On Facebook