Samuel A. Simon is not an actor … many of my colleagues might find that a hindrance. I found it refreshing. Many will say he wrote a story and not a play. I find it to be the very essence of what a theatre piece should be. We have a large lesson to learn from Sam and Susan Simon.
High above the posh setting that is Theatre Row in their smallest, but by no means less-compelling, theatre, a regular guy shares his deepest and most traumatic moments with total strangers. His beloved wife – diagnosed with cancer – went through a devastating journey. What Sam shares with us is the fact that so did he! He went from a husband and businessman into a caregiver waiting for his wife’s “actual dance” over night. We then get his pain, his fears, his calculations, his procedures, his humor, his wit, his courage … all in an hour. Pure theatre as it was initially meant to me.
Sam – as stated – is not an actor. This creates some uncomfortable staging, even with the obviously strong leadership of director Kate Holland; there might be the occasional fumfer; even a light cue to two that seemed a bit off. But what replaces it, is head-and-shoulders above the theatrics.
When Sam talks of his wife and his journey, he’s not acting. The gush of love for her is real; his shock at her resolve is real; the tears when thinking the worst are real; the glint at talking about touching her in that husbandly way is real. The audience found this reality intoxicating and was with him every word – forgiving the fumfer and the stumble. The discussion afterward only added to the catharsis of the night.
The play is looking to tour – a wonderful idea. One day Sam might turn the role over to another to perform it. At that point, the imagery and the technique will be cleaner, more “professional” … but no one, not the finest actor, will give it the same heart.
The production runs the month of January. See it. Now. Then go home and hug the one you love.