The Tin Woman
Breakthrough Theater of Winter Park
Directed by Vicki Wicks
Starring Lydia Lea Real, John Robert Kress, Marian L Dunham and Larry Stallings
Joy (Real) got a second chance: Jack (Kress) got whacked by a car, and now she has his heart as in “sewn inside her chest.” This ought to make her happy but she’s miserable. Then something weird happens: she writes a letter to the donor’s family, and they decide to meet, since by coincidence donor and recipient are from the same town. On the donor’s side, Hank (Stallings) and Alice (Dunham) argue over whether to meet her. Will it bring up bad memories, or help achieve the “closure” modern Americans seek? There’s a little of both, and while the old folks are ambivalent, Jack’s sister Sammy (Paola Rondon Roa) is overwhelmed with bubbliness and just thinks everything that ever happened is just wonderful. When a picture of Joy appears on the McGuffin of Jacks fancy Leica camera the coincidences all became too much, and everyone including the audience breaks down and cries.
There’s a lot of furniture and lot of emotion on this tiny stage. Kress slowly wanders between the actors, which is creepy until you figure out his real function here. Real’s torn and re-stitched recipient role reveals that a successful transplant doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness, and Stalling (in one of his signature “Hank” roles) lets us know that parent – child fist fights don’t end just because someone dies. But Dunham has the worst job of all as she seeks one quiet, non-argumentative dinner with here cranky and unresolved hubby. She accepts and moves on, Hank digs in and goes back for more punishment even after he’s lost 5 or 6 rounds by knock out.
This is a shockingly good story with nearly everyone on and off crying by curtain. Even Mr. Stalling at his most cranky old guy persona breaks into tears, and it’s hard not to love this heart-breaking story of too-late reconciling. I saw this gem in a surprisingly small house and Orlando theater die hards may not have entirely recovered from Fringe, but by all means try to see this while you can.