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Talley’s Folly – MBT Summer Rep in the Walton Theatre

Summer Lovin’ by Marla Bronstein

Every summer the Mount Baker Theater produces the Summer Rep Series, treating patrons to performances that allow both equity and non-equity actors to play together on stage. This summer, along with Becky’s New Car and Last of the Red Hot Lovers, is Talley’s Folly which earned a 1980 Pulitzer Prize for author Lanford Wilson as part of the “Talley Trilogy.”

The “Folly” is the dilapidated boat house in Lebanon, Missouri, built by elder Talley, as described eloquently by Matthew, an accountant visiting from St. Louis. He is there to tell us about what happened way back in the summer of 1944, when he went to court Talley’s niece Sally. Matthew, a nice Jewish boy, and Sally, a former Methodist Sunday school teacher, had a tryst the summer before, and while Matthew can’t get over Sally (he’s been sending her letters every week) Sally is playing hard to get, and only accidentally admits that she’s read more than one of them.

When the lights first come up on Robert Pescovitz (Matthew) he tells us we will be his audience for 97 minutes to tell his story. Pescovitz has a long list of stage and screen credits behind him. As if he’s having a casual conversation with us, he sets the scene for us. At the completion of the exposition, he offered to repeat himself in case anyone in the audience missed something. I personally and immensely enjoyed his repetition of his opening, which he performed at break neck speed. The audience seemed to appreciate it as well.

Part of the joy of this Rep series is that we are treated to performances by actors and actresses who were, at one time, part of the local theater scene. Laura Engels returns to Bellingham and brings depth to Sally’s angst and heartbreak.

Matthew is not without his demons. As a child, he had suffered great personal loss, and, until meeting Sally, felt no hope.

While this all sounds pretty heavy, this show is not without its comic relief. Matthew and Laura banter like an old married couple. What people in 1944 thought it might be like in1980 is always funny. And who would have thought there could be ice skating on an indoor stage in the middle of July?

Esteemed guest director Lamby Hedge makes full use of the theater in the round and the simply designed stage. She’s outfitted a hexagonal wooden platform with a few set pieces consisting of crates, barrels and boxes. Hidden within are old ice skates and a working (electric) lantern. Hedge gives equal time to every patron in the theatre for face to face time with the actors, whether they are chatting, arguing, wrestling, dancing or ice skating.

Designers Alison Terry (sound) and Sara Kaiser (lighting) keep everything understated, so as to not distract from the work of the actors.

In the end, Matthew proved to be the mensch every mother would want to have marry her daughter.

Jul 15th, 18th, 24th, 30th, Aug 2nd, 5th, 8th, 7:30 PM
Jul 27th, 3:00 PM,
Venue: Walton Theatre
Price: Tickets $25.00 adults, $12.50 students w/ valid i.d. plus applicable fees. Group discounts available – call (360) 734-6080. Website http://www.mountbakertheatre.com