There is a heart of darkness within us all and our front-facing self is what we choose for the world to see. This is readily apparent in Mêlisa Annis’ brand new play “Charlie’s Waiting,” Parity Productions’ latest production now at TheaterLab at 357 West 36th Street, Third Floor. We meet half a happy couple on the night before the nuptial, whiling away her time working on wedding periphery, when at the door there comes a tapping, gently rapping at her cottage door. ’Tis not a raven, but an Annie (Amy Scanlon), who is rapping, and Louise Xanthe Elbrick) will soon be rapt with what Annie’s tap hath brought.
Louise and Kelly (Stephanie Heitman) are a loving couple. The play is set in England and Louise is an open-book, public-schooled trust fund baby, with a nearly-here bun in the oven of her own. She assumes a lot on the part of her coupledom that Kelly may or may not find agreeable. Louise is a force of nature with only two thirds of communication in hand–the transmission and the medium through which it travels. Physics tells us that, for sound to occur, there also needs to be something to receive. The course of the 70 minutes demonstrates that reception and understanding are far from the same thing.
We are in the more remote part of England where Louise has her dream cottage. Part of Hadrian’s Wall is within her cottage, though the inside of the cottage belies its historic exterior. Inside Louise has remade it into a modern space. She loves change, when she’s the agent of it but, then, don’t we all? When Annie knocks, playwright Annis has captured the perfect uncomfortable conversation that director, and Parity Artistic Director, Ludovica Villar-Hauser has polished to mirror-perfection. In the course of a conversation, we get class struggles, privilege, assumption, internalized sexism, and a host of emotions on both sides. Lack of trust is a bitter sauce and when Annie leaves and Kelly returns, the heart questions everything.
This play is running at the intimate space at TheaterLab from now through April 20. Wondering who Charlie is and why is Charlie, well, waiting? You’ll have to find out for yourself. On weekdays and Saturdays, the show begins at 7:30 pm, with matinees at 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This is a dark comedy, to be sure and a mystery lies at its deep center. Buy your tickets at http://www.theaterlabnyc.com/events/charlies-waiting