By Shawn Maus
Falcon Theatre’s production of Lisa Kron’s “Well” is just what the doctor ordered for a return to live theatre from the pandemic. You will laugh – and I mean laugh really hard – and you will feel all sorts of emotions as this complex piece seamlessly transitions from a one-woman-like show through breaking the fourth wall all while presenting “a multi character theatrical exploration of issues of health and illness both in the individual and in a community.”
The individual, in this case, is the author personified in a captivating performance by Samantha Joy Luhn who is dealing with issues of allergies, segregation (she grows up in a multi-racial community outside of Chicago), bullying, and her own mother (Angela Alexander Nalley). The ensemble of actors take on various roles from doctors, patients, community members, and Kron’s friends with a flawless ease that helps the audience differentiate the characters and the locations.
Everyone in the audience can identify with this child-parent relationship. Anyone who is a caregiver, like myself, can feel in their heart all of the humor, frustration, care, and love it takes. Luhn craftily moves from pain, confusion, love, and liberation as her character explores the issues she declared to the audience at the beginning of the show. Nalley is emotive and passionate as Ann Kron. She shuffles around her little home, worries about the guests (audience members) Lisa has brought in (even tossing out snacks to audience members), all the while providing that humor you expect from a doting mother who doesn’t “want to be in a play!” She reminded me a lot of my Mom’s manner of poking fun at my artistic ambitions. Nalley brings such subtle nuances to her performance that you feel the pain and love in this woman. The way she holds her fingers and thumb to showcase arthritis is one of the most astounding subtleties I’ve seen in a performance.
The ensemble keeps you breathless and wanting more as they dash in and out of their various characters. It’s even funnier when they “forget” what scene they’re in because they’ve been so adept at the rapid pace of the scene changes.
The script is a bit cumbersome with many big themes to deal with. Ultimately the script doesn’t answer how Lisa is cured of her allergies and we learn little about community integration. But, director Burgess Byrd does a very impressive job of keeping it fluid and builds each scene seamlessly. It’s very impressive that this is her directorial debut and the intimate space of the Falcon aids her well. This is a show that must be in the laps of the audience as if we were at the knee of that loving parent listening to the stories they have to share.
With so many of us cooped up with family over the past 18 months, this production lightens our hearts and tickles our funny bones and is just what the doctor ordered.
“Well” by Lisa Kron runs November 26, 27, December 2, 3, 4 2021 at 8:00 PM at Falcon Theatre located at 636 Monmouth St, Newport, KY 41071. For ticket information, visit the Falcon Theatre website at https://www.falcontheater.net.
Shawn Maus is a screenwriter, television producer, theatre director, and old-time radio enthusiast. A number of his screenplays have been optioned and/or are under development. He is also a director for commercials, industrial videos, and a voice-over actor. He has been a reviewer for LCT since 2015.