Us Vs. Us

Pitting the black middle class against its poorer neighbors; matching young lovers with their geriatric selves

This act plays like a deranged Thirties melodrama, with two noble but flawed lovers (acted with Cowardly Lion bluster by David Manis and with magnificent restraint by Sally Wingert) finding each other amid a storm of family betrayals. Unfortunately, the second act--drawn from Guare's 35-year-old script--plays out as an unsatisfying coda to the events at the lake. Guare has moved the story ahead 50 years, and his noble lovers have grown very old as a result, but the script has all the earnestness and clunkiness that comes with the work of a very young playwright. The act is pedestrian, in a literal sense: Guare's old lovers walk the stage, ostensibly on the way to a hospital where one will die. Along the way they reveal long-hidden secrets and address long-buried pains.

The characters and dialogue here creak like antiques, defying the odder and richer flair for mischief that Guare put into his new first act. The lovers prattle endlessly about the agonies of aging, summed up in awkward statements like "Do you know what I miss most about growing old?" The question hangs in the air, calling to mind the wildness of their youthful adventures at the lake. Like its characters, the second act groans with its age: Though Guare has gotten better with the years, the hoary core of this script has not.

 

They were so much older then, they're younger than that now: David Manis and Sally Wingert in Lake Hollywood
They were so much older then, they're younger than that now: David Manis and Sally Wingert in Lake Hollywood

Correction published 2/23/2000:
Owing to a reporting error, this story misidentified the actress who plays Sierra in Illusion Theater's production of No Distance Between Us. The actress's name is Thomasina Taylor. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text. City Pages regrets the error.

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