INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Thursday, November 12, 2015
“Mend the Envelope” written by Jason Lasky, directed by Jessica Schechter; Stage management and Lighting design by Maggie Larkin; Cello by Justin Zhao; Graphic design by William Bisgrove; and starring Nicholas Calhoun and Brittany Belinski.
On the stage, the audience observes its setting for the performance. It sees an object, piano, covered with a white cloth in one corner, a chair next to a table, a wheel chair in the middle of the room, and three boxes in different locations with names as labels on two of them on the other side of the room. Moments later, the audience hears music; and it sees Henry on stage as he searches a box on the floor with a multi-colored object, the remnant of an air balloon. He begins to sing and a voice speaks to him. Next, a woman voice is heard before she becomes visible to the audience. It’s Joanie, she assumes Henry fell out of his wheel chair, and she tries to help him back into the chair with unkind dialogues between both of them.
A telephone call interrupts the couple’s verbal interaction for a brief moment. Joanie picks up the cellular phone from the table, and she answers it. She passes the phone over to Henry to speak to one Mrs. Cooper. Joanie couldn’t wait to continue her barrage of questions for Henry, and she wants to know why a certain item was in their home. The audience witnesses the bickering between the couple in anticipation to what’s next in the scene.
Joanie tells Henry about her conversation with his brother, Steve. Henry uses this opportunity to accuse her of having sex and keeping secrets from him. Joanie confesses her loyalty and dedication to him; and he fights back by making reference to his family’s business. Joanie consoles her husband to use his other skills because of his disability, and she tries to convince him that people do care about him. In addition, Henry tells Joanie that the God of Abraham will help him.
Joanie tells Henry that he should be playing the piano, and he should get his sheet music for playing purposes. The audience sees Henry as he deals with his frustration, and his wife ushers him into reality with references of people with disabilities. Henry recalls the great life with his family, and he slips back into the reality when he thinks about the air balloon accident. The audience hears him speak with agony in his voice. He says, “I live with it.” Joanie responds to Henry’s comment, and the audience gets a clearer understanding of what is really going on between the couple. “You let him go!” These are the words that came out of Joanie’s mouth.
Joanie tells Henry that their son is buried next to her family at St. Paul’s, her mother’s family. Henry feels the betrayal of his wife’s decision, and he wants to know if he had married the right person. The audience’s attention to the couple’s issue heightens after Joanie revealed her broken promise to her husband, for she refused to give her son a Jewish burial. Joanie buried her son in a Catholic cemetery. She wants to take her husband to the grave site.
Something is too stagnant in the lives of Henry and Joanie, and she wants to get over the whole experience of losing her son. The audience watches the couple as they continue to focus on their loss. Henry speaks with great remorse in his voice, and he comes to terms with his role in the tragedy of his son’s death. He falls out of his chair and he cries on the floor. He says to his wife, “Why did I allow him to pull the cord? I told him not to look ….” Joanie joins Henry on the floor and they cry together. Henry then prays with the colorful sheet around him. Joanie goes to the piano, and she sits on the stool and begins to play. Henry walks over and he sits next to her at the piano.
The writer’s message touches the soul of the audience in this performance. He shows how important it is to be honest with oneself. Henry gets the relief he was looking for after he accepts responsibility for allowing his son to pull the cord. This breach in protocol became the genesis of the tragedy that almost destroyed the couple’s relationship. There is a strong possibility that this play will become a must-see performance for theatre goers.