Deanna Jent's Falling at the Minetta Lane Theatre is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of a family with an autistic child, but the play is so much more than a "disease of the week" melodrama.
Instead, audiences are treated to a richly textured piece about love in all its complexity, told with bold writing by its author, a kinetic, propelling sense of style by director Lori Adam, and anchored by career-defining performances by Daniel Everidge and Julia Murney.
Falling takes place during one pivotal day in the lives of Bill (Daniel Pearce) and Tami (Murney) and their two children: a bright and normal teenaged girl, Lisa (Jacey Powers), and an aggressively violent, fully grown autistic son, Josh (Daniel Everidge). The flashpoint of the play is the arrival of Bill's mother, Grammy Sue (Celia Howard), who is unprepared for the turmoil -- as are we -- of everyday life in this troubled family.
However, within mere minutes of this tightly-told, 75-minute work, we quickly and efficiently witness the physically and emotionally exhausting challenges of existence in this household, and realize that these people are stretched to the breaking point.
One reason is that Tami is devoted to her autistic son, despite the fact that he has become a dangerous presence in the house – and is never satisfied that her family is as devoted to Josh as she is.
It is a tribute to Everidge's extraordinary, realistic performance that when Josh finally explodes – inevitable as it may seem -- that it happens like a flash of lightning, illuminating the precarious state of this family's existence.
Meanwhile, Murney –who has proven herself to be a standout musical theater performer in shows like The Wild Party and A Class Act -- is a revelation. Filled with emotional layering, her performance is likely to be remembered when awards season comes around.
The title of the play has its own meaning in the context of the story, but we promise that audiences will be falling in love with this extraordinary piece of theater.
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