Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at New York Theater Workshop

This past Sunday I attended New York Theater Workshop's new show, "The Hearts is a Lonely Hunter". This play is based on the book with the similar title by Carson McCullers. "Heart..." was McCullers first novel, written in 1940, when she was merely 23 and it shows in the characters. They are all boiling underneath their skin with some hunger that makes them inherently unique in a small Southern town.

Each character attempts to vent their sufferings to a deaf man who has recently entered their town, John Singer. Singer invites each person into his room, to sit at his table, to be his companion. Here each character, a alcoholic with a Communist bend, a black doctor, a recently widowed restaurant owner and a young girl beginning the process of becoming a woman, tells Singer their problems, wishes and fears knowing that he will not expose them. Singer is a sounding board for their own existence to be amplified back at them without judgement.

Singer looks forward to seeing his best friend, a fellow deaf man who is prone to outbursts that have landed him in an asylum. Here you see Singer light up and turn into a three dimensional man with desires and opinions as opposed to a friendly face to air grievances to.

New York Theater Workshop's version of the book breaks the stories down into vignettes of experiences interchanged that highlights the want of connectivity within each character but also the inability and isolation felt instead. The gorgeous set (by Neil Patel) moves pieces of rooms back and forth, illuminating bits and pieces of these lives lived without fulfillment.

"Heart..." was able to make me successfully reflect on my own desires and yearnings and compare to these people how successful (or unsuccessful) I have been. The people in this story are very real and are expressing a feeling and part of life that many of us experience on a day to day basis. Watching failure of these goals is heartbreaking and shows you McCullers' ability to frame a specific loneliness. Leaving the show, I couldn't help but think about what I was going to do next and how it could impact greatly.

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