A Strange Country, now playing at the Access Theater on the border of Chinatown and Tribeca, packs a punch. It is unusually powerful because it veers into territory both familiar and unexpected. As a piece of theater, it often signposts where it is going, but it gets there in unique ways. And that is high praise.
The scene opens with Darryl (embodied by Sidney Williams) sleeping it off in an old stained BarcaLounger. As he wakes up and shuffles to the couch, it is obvious Darryl in old and stained as well – in ways we will learn. The room (ugly / beautiful set design by Brian Dudkiewicz) is American lower class, circa Texas. The play is then set in not exactlya foreign country, but a strange country, at least for most of us.
Sidney Williams, Bethany Geraghy and Vanessa Vache in A Strange Country
Darryl is pulled from sleep by his sister, Tiffany (newcomer Vanessa Vaché – holding her own against these more experienced actors) and Tiffany’s girlfriend Jamie (Bethany Geraghy). Tiffany has come to roust Darryl and take him home for a re-commitment ceremony of their parents. This leads to some great scenes between the three – if a little too Sam Shepardesque. Darryl and his father are violently estranged. Little sister Tiffany plays a rough edged “mom” to the entire family, inserting herself to just bring some peace for the day.
Various excuses leave them coupled into changing pairs as A Strange Countrydrives us through the past of these characters. Jamie is a recovering alcoholic; Darryl is an unrepentant alcoholic who medicates his bi-polar issues with prescriptions. Tiffany’s addiction tends towards family and support, with a healthy dose of drama. And the only way to get Tiffany to leave him alone, is for Darryl to betray her.
Sidney Williams and Bethany Geraghy bring some amazing life to the characters of Darryl and Jamie as they ultimately find strength and express it passively, a difficult thing to do well on stage.
Written by Anne Adams, A Strange Country leaves a lot of loose ends lying around. There are echoes and flashes of bits that might have been cut from a longer play, but she and director Jay Stull have distilled this to the essence of the characters. It is a hell of a ride.
Playwright: Anne Adams | Director: Jay Stull | Cast: Bethany Geraghy, Vanessa Vaché, Sidney Williams | Website