Teresa Lotz’s “She Calls Me Firely” is now playing at the SoHo Playhouse in the Huron Club. This perfect space is well suited to Lotz’s intimately set play, as the room provides for an immersive experience. While not interactive, the action is as close as a whisper and as affecting as a lightning strike, especially magnified with the reach-out-and-don’t-touch closeness of the cast.
In “Firefly,” real and surreal at the same time, as in the experience of a dream or a nightmare, Ken (Sean Hudock) wanders into Freddie’s Place, a small local bar in a town in Kentucky. He breezes in the door right before closing, but the proprietress Freddie (Paula Ewin) sees that this troubled young man needs something. Ultimately, we learn what call and response resonates within each at the subvocal level, and that’s just one gorgeously textured layer in this magnificently intense work.
Ken goes back and forth from his present-day self to his six-year-old self, interacting with Freddie, his mother Veronica (Emily Batsford), and his boyfriend Levi (Daniel Burns). There is foreshadowing of what is to come that is so subtle that it is like a razor cut … you only recognize what happened when the bleeding begins. Ken has something dark lurking in his past and, whether or not it affects his future, is what you learn during the course of a very intense period.
The Huron Club, the venue at the SoHo Playhouse where this magic and mayhem occurs, is in the basement of the building that was once the Tammany Hall Social Club. There is a feeling of delving into the deep inner reaches of something, and if you’re like me, there will be haunting moments long after you leave the theatre.
Ludovica Villar-Hauser’s direction and staging give us tantalizing emotional and intellectual glimpses and this amazingly talented cast exposes the pulpy nerves of the psyche. Continually probing, as we do with a toothache, you emerge with parts of yourself as exposed as the characters before you. Hudock is alternately little boy and little boy lost, to the extent that we see the boy pretending behind the façade of the man, doing his best to fill his own now-big shoes, as he navigates the murky bog of his future. Burns’ Levi is a light who has had his own share of darkness, and daily emerges from it, but Ken isn’t sure whether Levi is for the real, or a will o’ the wisp. Batsford’s Veronica is fragile and hard at the same time, annealed by a lifetime of hidden suffering and non-choices until she engineers her own release. Freddie, in Ewin’s hands is as complicated as clockwork, and every bit as on time.
Come early and enjoy a drink with the beautiful Taylor. The evening we were there, Morgan Siobhan Green entertained us on violin and ukulele, while we waited for a fictional fuel-seeking sister. She had us in the palm of her capable hand and, when the play began, the immersion continued.
Visit Freddie’s Place, but do it before June 23rd. In fact, get your tickets now, as people like me are going to want to see this absorbing drama again and again. It’s motherhood, up with a twist, and it is as real as real gets. Tickets are available at http://www.sohoplayhouse.com/huron-club