Richard and I saw *All the Ways To Say I Love You* at the Lucille Lortel Theater on 10/23. This show had a lot going for it, and we loved it. First, it was written by Neil La Bute - - we really enjoyed his play *reasons to be pretty*, which played on Broadway a few years ago. I've seen a few movies he's written, too. He specializes in well-crafted scripts with a dash of sadism. Right up my alley! Second, it was a one-woman play starring the great Judith Light. I read a bit in the NY Times about her taking this part - - she said it looked unlike anything she had done before and she was eager for a challenge. Third, we got cheap tickets, they were $30 each. And last, it's shameful to see this as a bonus for a show, but it was only 60 minutes long. That's a big selling point for me! I have a hard time imagining the Old Met, where the audience didn't feel like 90-minute *Salome* was a full evening, and they would tack on 45-minute *Gianni Schicchi.* Can you imagine.
The play was a tour de force for the playwright and the actor. It's the story of a high school English teacher who has an affair with one of her students. A story we've heard before, but told from a fresh angle and with a surprising and complicated twist thrown in the middle (don't worry, you'll never get spoilers from me). Light, in her performance, reminded me of Cate Blanchett in *A Streetcar Named Desire*, which we saw at BAM a few years ago. Both actors showed the strain that the character felt in keeping it together. Light started the play completely in control, breezy, chatty, confident, and then gave us moments where the mask fell off and you could see the pain, horror, and loneliness underneath. It was scorching.
There were a few moments of laughter, which were nearly always followed by an ashamed silence. That's like gold in the theater, that kind of abrupt shift, and La Bute and Light handled it gloriously. Richard thought Light was a little overwrought in her performance, and I can see that, but I liked the fact that she was being so overt and large-scale, But that said, I would be very interested to see the play again with a different actor, someone who takes a more understated approach. I think it might be just as strong.