City Paper is not for tourists
Goethe Institut – Gallery
Sunday, July 14, 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, 6:45 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 9:00 p.m.
They say: “A Fringe audience favorite in New York and Minneapolis, Recovery is an uplifting, authentic and powerful drama about the discoveries we make, the humor and courage we find, and the meaningful connections we forge – while facing the most challenging circumstances.”
Lindsey’s Take: Recovery can be a difficult story to tell. It takes place in a waiting room, which is fitting, as the uncertainty found there is palpable. Treatment is a waiting game—-for the characters and in real life, when dealing with an often terminal illness like leukemia.
Threaded throughout the storyline of boy-meets-girl are monologues from patients: from newlyweds, middle-aged moms, a young boy or a teenage girl, all facing love and loss differently.
Those waiting room walls—-if they could talk back—-would tell stories like these, of anger, denial, sadness and fear, but also of hope and strength and support. Recovery is about forging human connections against all odds, about how different people react in the face of fear.
The main characters, Michael and Kathleen (Grant Cloyd and Rachel Manteuffel), cross paths between treatments, commiserating over spinal taps and transfusions. Their dialogue is above average in its charm and comedy, moreso than your usual patients, at least – but the truth wouldn’t be a show you’d want to watch. There are plenty of jokes, witty comebacks and dark humor. Michael seems bipolar, vacillating between cheerful desperation and deep frustration. He never stops trying to engage Kathleen in conversation, despite repeated rebukes. But she is injured, guarded and more than a little sarcastic in her responses. They each tell their own stories of devastation, of loneliness, of love lost and found.
Recovery also shows the strength of the doctors and nurses that treat these patients, many of whom care beyond their jobs, and the caretakers who struggle along with their loved ones. They all face each diagnosis, each setback, each relapse together.
The show can be difficult, but not depressing, as it strikes a balance between humor and truth that reality can only hope for. Playwright Mark Jason Williams is a survivor himself, which shows in each of the experiences he writes about. Recovery shows the extremes of human reactions: Some rise above, find grace in suffering, others become angry with their fates. Often, it’s a little bit of both. Its a reminder of the strength of human connections that can be forged in the face of a terminal illness.
See it if: You can see the positive even in the most difficult situations.
Skip it if: Terminal illnesses hold some trauma for you.
DISCLOSURE: Fringe & Purge blogger Rachel Manteuffel is one of this play’s cast members. And the author of this post is working in a technical capacity on No Sex, Please and The Burlesque of Broadway in this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.