May 16, 2014
We’ve all heard the saying; “there’s a thin line between love and hate”. Such is the topic of debate in Sharr White’s emotionally charged play, Annapurna. When the lines of these polar-opposite emotions blur, the result is irrational rationality which everyone can relate to.
White’s play opens with Emma, a 50 something woman fleeing her second husband, unexpectedly dropping in on her ex-husband Ulysses. They have not seen each other in 20 years, after Emma disappeared one night with their son Sam. But Ulysses shares is much to blame for her sudden departure; he was a black-out alcoholic who drove his family away. Sam has discovered his father’s location and plans to visit him at any moment, Thus, prompting Emma to get to Ulysses first. She does and the next ninety-minutes are a roller-coaster of a ride. From laughter to tears, and rage to tenderness, this couple has an epic cathartic battle. Yes, there is a lot of pain on both sides, but underlying all the hurt, there is a deep love that still exists. When the fireworks explode, and they do quite often, we feel every emotion that Emma and Ulysses experience. And when the major climax comes, we are fully invested and completely engaged.
So the plot is strong, and when you add Megan Mullally, and her real-life husband Nick Offerman into the mix, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Mullally and Offerman play excellently off each other, never missing a moment. From the highs to the lows of their journey, we never disengage from them. Their pain and sorrow is palpable and you could hear a pin drop in the audience. We were afraid to move, scared that we may somehow interrupt them. Yet in their delicate predicament, the comic moments are spot on. Not surprisingly, Mullally has great delivery, but Offerman was unexpected; he was every bit as funny as Mullally delivering some of the funniest lines in the play. Underneath all the dismay and anger, the deep-love that these two shared is always there, and the tender moments are filled with sincerity and vulnerability.
Anyone who has ever lived can identify this play, and find themselves rooting for each character at different moments. Like most things, there is no clean cut “bad” guy here, rather there are two flawed people doing the best they can to cope with the perplexities of the human condition, When the tumultuous black and white lines between right and wrong and love and hate mix, we are at our finest because living in the gray area is when we experience the ironic beauty of being human. The cast and crew of Annapurna, dwell in this ambiguous area well and we are thankful for the chance to examine our our bewildering contradictions that co-exist in us.
Annapurna plays now through June 1, 2014 at 410 W.42nd St. www.thenewgroup.org