First produced on Broadway in 1980, TALLEY’S FOLLY enchanted audiences and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Playwright Lanford Wilson touched everyone’s hearts with his gentle, funny, and clever tale of two very different people, apples and oranges mixed with just a little magic. Bright Eyes Productions has taken a play written over 30 years ago and tenderly presents it to today’s audience, in keeping with their mission of re-introducing oldie-but-goodie treasures to contemporary theater-goers. With finesse and charm, they meet their goal – and then some – in TALLEY’S FOLLY.
The time is 1944, and the place is Lebanon, Missouri. Jewish accountant Matt Friedman (Brian Chase) crossed paths with Sally Talley (Theresa Moriarty) during his vacation last summer – and he has never been the same. As soon as he returned to his home in St. Louis, he began writing daily newsy letters to the woman he never thought he’d meet, a woman who achieves perfection in his 41-year-old eyes. Even though she failed to respond to the barrage of missives, Sally did write one brief note asking him to stop. Was Matt discouraged? Thereby hangs the tale.
It’s the Fourth of July in Lebanon, and Matt boldly takes the holiday to drive to Sally’s conservative Protestant home, where he is met with a less-than-positive reception and finds the twin barrels of a gun pointed at him. He waits in the run-down Victorian boathouse for Sally to come home from work. Maybe the boathouse is something out of a dream, a “folly” which Sally’s uncle designed years ago. Despite his fervent proposal of marriage, Sally is unmoved, but perhaps just a little interested. As the two cautiously circle each other, past painful secrets emerge which they have never shared; and a tentative bond may just be forming.
As TALLEY’S FOLLY timidly navigates the winding and sometimes treacherous shores of commitment and love, Matt and Sally also manage to offer a fair share of chuckles to the audience. For this is a story of two people who discover each other as the audience looks on – two people who were probably made for each other even if their worlds might think otherwise. Throughout the play, Matt chats with the audience in his quest for a life which he never expected but hopes for. He’s really a brave, single-minded guy who won’t give up and never seems to lose his nerve in the face of adversity.
Director Richard Kilroy, who also served as set designer, does a superb job of invading the lives to two lonely people as they bare their souls to each other. His touch is light and fits the story to perfection. Double kudos to Kilroy for a set which is outstanding and vividly lovely from the blue pond under the boat house to the kitschy Victorian decorations and the row boat tied up alongside. Costumer Kevin Beaty does a stand-up job of creating the 1940’s. TALLEY’S FOLLY is a play which will never grow old, just as determination, courage, and love will never grow old. It’s a tender, touching account of pursuing a dream against all odds. This would be a great show for couples, but it will also appeal to contemporary audiences who treasure the concept of diversity, a current and timeless theme. The Pulitzer Prize committee certainly picked a winner.
TALLEY’S FOLLY runs March 11, 2018, with performances 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Hudson MainStage Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, call 323-960-4412 or go online.