by: Susan Hasho
The English Bride, by Lucile Lichtblau at 59E59 Theatres, is a 3-character mystery originally produced at the Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, NJ. It is a chamber piece for 3 actors that travels through the murky territory of truth. What really happened is finally revealed at the end to chilling effect. The play evolves as a Mossad agent questions the two people involved in a failed bombing of a plane in London—the accused accomplice and the Arab man she loves. Did he set her up? Was he set up by a Syrian man as he claims? Does he love her? She clearly loves him; he will save her from her drab and lonely life. What makes this play stand out is its attention to emotional detail. The playwright very carefully builds each character’s emotional history. And the complexity of the Arab character is an unusual achievement.
The direction by Carl Wallnau is without pretense and flows easily and truthfully to conclusion. He has an obvious gift for working with actors and a great sense of suspense.
The actors, reprising their roles here for the NYC premiere, are perfectly cast and their characters beautifully realized. Amy Griffin as Eileen Finney, a working class woman moving toward middle age and coming across the miracle that is this charming, sincere man is both awkward and ebullient. She manages to create a character that combines a slightly over-enthusiastic personality with a touching vulnerability—no mean feat and perfect for the role. Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Ali Said is charming, nervous and a total surprise. His performance is perfectly nuanced. And Ezra Barnes as the Mossad agent Dov is meticulously focused and fascinating in his persistence.
This 90-minute play is a lovely piece of theatre in an intimate setting. It runs through November 17th and really deserves to be seen. 59e59.org (212) 753-5959
*Photos Bob Eberle