REVIEW: Woman Next to Me Delivers Stellar Performance as Lady Who Realized The Oven's Still On
by Madeleine Perham. @madeleineperham.
PELHAM, NH. - Sure, King Lear is great and sheds light on the weight of being a fairy king or whatever, but this reviewer just couldn't take his eyes off the woman beside him who just realized she'd left the oven on.
One dude lost his eyes in a vicious exploration of human cruelty, but that lady's jaw tension when she couldn't remember when she last touched the dial? A perfect depiction of the uncertainty of human action, only highlighted by the toddler behind us who cried when they couldn't play with the prop eyes.
The play's three-hour running time might put off some theatergoers, but this woman's transformation from slightly dozing theatergoer to tense, possible fire-starter is a slow, subtle revelation - particularly since the woman on the other side fell asleep two scenes in and drooled on this reviewer's nice shirt.
A particularly thrilling moment came in the thunderstorm scene, unfortunately marred by the flashing lights and the distracting noise of the actors on stage. This made it difficult to see the woman's twitch of the foot when she tried to remember if it was hot or cold meatloaf for dinner. But the sadness in her eyes at the thought of cold meatloaf? Breathtaking.
"She was everything," said Shirley Mills, 54, who had spent the whole show unwrapping sweets in dramatic pauses and asking her nephew when the meerkat came on. "I was on every turn of that rollercoaster. Was her house on fire? Was it fine and she just hadn't slept since Tuesday? Yeah, the king guy was pretty good. Why didn't they sing 'Hakuna Matata'?"
This reviewer was unable to approach the woman directly and congratulate her performance, as she sprinted out of the theater in a bold rejection of the traditional curtain call, before stopping in the rain with a sudden, cathartic revelation that she didn't have an oven.