Don’t miss ‘Feeding the Dragon’ or ‘Constellations’ in Hartford
Updated 1:35 pm, Monday, February 5, 2018
Look to the stars to find two plays, Hartford Stage’s “Feeding the Dragon” and Hartford TheaterWorks’ “Constellations” for different views of looking to the stars and to heaven for inspiration and hope. Even in a fairy tale life, there is no guarantee of happily ever after. A little girl has to beware of monsters lurking around every corner, If she wants to stay safe. For Sharon Washington, growing up in a New York apartment tucked in the top if a public library had the potential to be a fantasy come true, but as in all tales of imagination, one must constantly be on guard for the unexpected.
Hartford Stage has created a fanciful set, courtesy of Tony Ferrier, for Sharon Washington to share her unique childhood in “Feeding the Dragon,” a story she lived, wrote about and performs in an engaging one woman show. Performances have been extended to Feb. 22.
In telling her story, Washington takes on the personas of almost two dozen personalities who people her world, who made it so dramatic and real. Not the least of which is her father, the flawed man who literally and figuratively feeds the dragon, the giant furnace in which he stuffs coal to keep the mammoth building warm and safe. His addiction to alcohol often makes him the scary monster in her autobiographical tale.
Living in a library had some distinct advantages for her: while the furnace devoured coal, she devoured books. Her love of learning was fed by her love of the written word. She traveled many times a day and night up the five long marble flights to her tower, a fairy tale world that was strictly her own. Her view of the stars out the top windows was remarkable, as was the freedom of journeying through the stacks of books below. She often felt like a king’s daughter, until the demons arrived unannounced.
When those demons descended and forced her away from her beloved childhood playground, we see a frightened little girl facing a real world of racial issues and injustice. Sharon Washington is revelatory in both milieus, always charming and lyrical, sincere and honest in her portrayal of her innermost secrets. Her storytelling is personal and passionate, under the taut direction of Maria Mileaf.
Come be enchanted by Sharon Washington’s tale and help her squeeze a nugget of shiny black coal so hard she is sure she will create a diamond. She, herself, is the diamond she creates.
For tickets ($25-90), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with added performances at 7:30 p.m. on February 2.
In “Constellations” at Hartford TheaterWorks, we find a totally unique view of the universe and explorations. The world is packed with infinite possibilities: what if you take the road less traveled, or miss the 9:05 train, or spontaneously show up at a party you weren’t supposed to attend? How might your life be altered by these seemingly random occurrences? Think of a butterfly fluttering its wings in Australia and the ripples it causes thousands of miles away. These are hundreds of “if” moments of life we face daily and they do change the course of who and what we are.
To be convinced of these phenomenons, just attend Hartford TheaterWorks’ latest offering, a boy meets girl love story by Nick Payne, called “Constellations” shining in the firmament until Sunday, February 18. An unlikely couple meet at a barbecue. Roland (M. Scott McLean) is a “honey” of a catch, a bee keeper, who is close to nature and its revelations. Marianne (Allison Pistorius) dapples in an existential world of theoretical physics, striving to make inroads in string theory and quantum mechanics. Is there any realm where these two can communicate and ultimately find love?
“Constellations” offers dozens of scenarios, one after the other, possible, probable, different scenes of what might or could happen as these two meet, talk and attempt to establish a relationship. With the unique use of lighting by Philip S. Rosenberg and original music provided by Billy Bivona, we are privy to a series of “do-overs” as Roland and Marianne get their sea legs steady as they overcome obstacles and climb over objections to ultimately reach the top of the mountain where eternal love dwells.
Like a roller coaster ride that exhilarates and enchants, that terrifies and alarms, the pair of talented actors hold our hearts close to their own. They reach out to each other. They push each other away. They fumble and start over, as hope and despair fly to opposite corners. From the moment you enter the intimate space that is Hartford TheaterWorks, you will feel disoriented as the entire stage has been reconfigured. It is now a shiny black circle in the center, like an arena, created by designer Jean Kim. Rob Ruggiero directs an involving and compelling world where love is the ultimate prize.
For tickets ($45-70), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online atwww.twhartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.