Inola @ COMFORT IN SILENCE
The American Theatre of Actors
314 West 54th Street, New York, NY
The performance that I have seen is “Comfort in Silence” written by Timothy Patrick Walsh, directed by Albert Baker; stage designed by Roxy Knepp; starring Roxy Knepp, Timothy Patrick Walsh, Christopher Springer, Katarina Vizina, Jose Vasquez, and Nikoli Pierre.
The writer gets his message across to the audience with this performance, and it should be the catalyst that gets theatre goers to start the conversation about sexual abuse. This story is not just an American story because people from around the world can identify with the message. Patty’s character carried the shame, guilt and the abuse on his mind for years. I will surely recommend this performance to school at all levels of education.
The reviewer’s point of view: This play is a very good instrument to utilize in the schools to avoid sexual abuse in the homes of young children. Children will be able to tell a parent or a teacher about any potential harm to their development and security. It is best to avoid strangers in your home whenever young children are present. Nanny cams are used widely in homes, and the installation of such cameras can become a deterrent from sexual predators.
The audience sees Patty, Steve, Mary and Ray on stage for a brief moment. Patty stays and he begins to interact with his therapist. He gives her a brief synopsis of his life between the ages of 20 and 46. He tells the therapist all about his baby brother and his current state of mind for he has lost his sense of humor and he had tried to find God. In amazement, the audience tries to empathize with Patty as he delves into his supposedly wretched life as a sales manager with a company that caters to four-legged animals. He talks about his $50 gift certificate for him to spend at one of the Applebee’s restaurant chain.
The therapist asks Patty certain pertinent questions, and the audience hears all about his social awkwardness at a fragile age of 10. Patty makes reference to the Empire State Building, and he mentions the actual dreams he had for his life before he became employed after college. He settles for a job he dislikes instead of pursing his dreams as an actor. He loves singing; but he states that he is tone deaf. He loves dancing, but he has no rhythm to complement the music. Patty lets it be known to the audience and his therapist about his excessive drinking. The truth sheds some light into his dark soul.
Patty’s friends enjoy conversation and drinks on the sofa. Steve and Mary sing one of Boy George’s and one of Madonna’s songs, and their conversation and Mary’s outfit put the audience back to the 1980s. Mary’s not too successful audition enables her to reflect on her life and her age. Dressing for the part doesn’t change her age from being a fortysomething-year-old woman. Mary sings her rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” In the audience’s mind, Mary is definitely not an Eva Peron; but she communicates with Steve about the things that are of interests to today’s women. Steve tells Mary about his brief encounter with a former classmate of hers who was Miss Perfect in their teenage years in high school. Sandy O’Hara’s persona in high school displayed a sense of perfection, but time and life have not been too kind to her. Now, she is a twice-divorced and a mother of three children. Steve and Mary find pleasure in her not-too-perfect situation as a woman and a mother, and they laugh out loud about her not-too-perfect life.
Patty visits his friends, Steve and Mary. They miss his presence, and they assume that he is dying. Patty shares his story with them. He reveals that he is seeing a therapist, and Steve wants to know if the therapist is cute. Steve soon realizes that Patty’s therapist is a female. Mary tries to be supportive to Patty, but Steve stays on his case in a negative manner. Mary shares with Steve and Patty her experience when she seek help from a counselor, and she tells the guys all about her mother’s advice to her. A woman must not give up sex until after seven dates which must include two home-cooked meals. Following an advice like this one can surely keep a lot of unwanted pregnancies, shotgun weddings, and divorces from contributing to the tribulations of society.
The audience sees how Steve and Patty reminisce about Steve’s mother. Steve tells Patty all about his mother’s behavior before and during his years in college. Steve talks about the birth of Stevie during his Spring-Break vacation to Patty, and he tells him that his disclosure to his mother fractured their relationship as mother and son. Steve gives the assurance of a reconciliation between him and his mother years after while she was sick. There is a consensus between the guys that God has a way of being number one in the lives of many.
Patty talks about the fall season as his favorite time of the year, and he reveals a little about himself. He tells Steve all about the leaves on the ground, and the audience hears all about his phobia of the dark. Patty reveals that the light from the street lamps assured him of safety, and he reiterates how he felt that God saved him from the dark, from fighting his battle alone in the dark. Patty’s gives the audience and Steve the impression that he is not worthy of happiness.
Steve and Mary communicate via the telephone about Patty’s love life. In the meantime, the audience sees Patty in a therapy session with his therapist. Patty complains about how he is ignoring his friends, and he gives the audience a glimpse of his relationship with Steve and Mary. Patty tries to convince himself that he’s not deserving of love. His therapist wants to know how he feels about taking somebody home with him, and she rubs it in with a statement. The therapist says, “Everyone deserves love!”
Steve and Mary enter with Ray, one of their friends; and he makes himself comfortable in the room. Steve thinks that Mary’s outfit allows her to depict the character of Eliza Doolittle in the movie Pygmalion, but she demonstrates to the audience a certain style like Katharine Hepburn. Patty shows up to see his friends, and Steve complains about his absence from the duo. Steve wants Mary to find a young man, a Chip and Dale type, for Patty. Steve mentions to Patty all about his illegal activities on the job. He uses Mary’s temporary position in the Human Resources Department to read the interoffice correspondences of other employees’ personal information. Steve chastises his friend, Patty; and he forces him to serve Ray some health-conscious snacks. Ray’s hearing impairment prevents Patty from connecting with him the first time around. Patty tries for the second time and Ray helps himself to the snack he tries to serve in the room. Mary intercedes on Ray’s behalf, and Patty messes up the sign language interaction between Ray and him. Ray and Patty make a connection, and they leave Steve and Mary’s party together.
Steve allows Patty to enjoy nature! He shows him the moon on their walk to their respective homes! Patty gives Ray his business card. Ray’s second method of communication with Patty is via his cellular telephone through texting. Patty visits his therapist, and she picks up some changes in Patty’s demeanor. He complains to his therapist about poor Ray, and she tells Patty how she lives for her man. She lives a balanced life! The rumor mill is in full swing, for Ray talks about Patty to Mary. Mary has diarrhea of the mouth and she passes the information over to her coconspirator, Steve who thrives on gossip. Steve is unable to curb his curiosity about Patty’s love life.
Patty complains to his therapist and he tells her all about his insecurities, for he states how much he’s not comfortable in his own skin. He tells the therapist about an incident when he was a 13-year-old boy. He reveals the sexual abuse of his baby brother at the hands of his uncle in his brother’s bedroom. Soon after Patty’s therapy session, he talks with Steve; but his stay is brief. Later, Ray visits Patty and he makes up an excuse to get rid of him. He blames everything on his job. Ray probes Patty for answers and he sheds off a little more of his secrets and hurt. Patty reveals that he’s a virgin, and he gives away other information about his family and the location of his brother in New York State. Ray tells Mary about Patty’s virginity in confidence, and she relays the information to Steve. Steve rethinks his position with Patty.
The audience witnesses Patty in action. He takes a stand with his therapist, and he informs her that he’s tired of talking with her. He thanks her for her time and he leaves her office. The duo of gossip, Steve and Mary, sit at their favorite bar sharing information; and Steve asks about Patty. Steve opens up to Mary about his true feelings for Patty, and he makes a derogatory remarks about Ray. Steve tries to talk about his feelings, but Mary reminds him of his current lifestyle. Patty shows up at the bar and he wants Steve to listen to him. Steve offers Patty a drink, and he accepts it. One drink turns into two or more drinks for Patty. Mary joins Patty and Steve and she drinks with them. Patty hurries to meet Ray!
Patty tells his story about his performance review by a supervisor, and he takes the opportunity to quit his job of twenty years. Ray doesn’t agree with Patty. There is a big misunderstanding between them. Patty shreds some more layers from his childhood experiences. He releases the hurt! His reveals that his uncle was murdered in prison. Patty’s uncle raped and molested a little girl. The pressure is on Patty to free himself of his hurt. He goes back to see his therapist. He confesses to her all of his inner pain. She advises him to trust love. In the meantime, Mary and Steve still discuss their friend’s love life. Eventually Ray and Patty become an item.
Ray and Patty’s relationship becomes a short-lived experience because Ray died. Steve and Mary stay close to their friend, Patty, and he tries to recapture the moon. Patty and Steve talk with each other, and they experience a tender moment between them. Patty realizes that Ray took his heart with him when he died, and he admits how he is angry with his mother, his uncle, God and Ray. Patty gets the last of the hurt off of his chest, for he reveals the most painful secret of all. He acknowledges his experience of being raped by his uncle repeatedly when he was a boy. Patty’s revelation enables him to love freely, for he releases the secrets and shame from his life that are always attached to sexual abuse.
Mary announces her reconciliation and her working relationship with her mother to the audience, and both of them get the best of both worlds. Both women may not get what their hearts desire, but the opportunity to heal is paramount in the story.