Marcia Jean Kutz David Margulies

Marcia Jean Kutz
David Margulies

Peter Friedman

Peter Friedman

Stephanie Wright Thompson Frank Harts

Stephanie Wright Thompson
Frank Harts

By: Sandi Durell

Talking walls? Floating babies? Missing hat? Missing wife?




Young playwright Lauren Yee certainly has quite an imagination as she brings together a young couple just moved in together in the burbs of New York – she called Voice (Stephanie Wright Thompson) and the caring Gabe (Frank Harts).  However, Voice has never developed the love inside her – somehow she was left to float off as a baby and now she’s tough as nails and needy.


Counter them with the couple who used to inhabit this shabby old house  (scenic design Carolyn Mraz) – Hetchman, the hat maker (incredibly portrayed by David Margulies) and his wife (what’s her name? – he’s forgotten after 60 years of marriage) perfectly enacted by Marcia Jean Kurtz as the worn down neglected wife.


They all come together because of the talking wall or vall (with Yiddish accent played by Megan Byrne) that spews out information about Hetchman and his wife by way of typed sheets of paper that just float right out from vall.  It’s only Voice that can hear wall and as she gathers the papers, so unfolds the story.


Poor neglected “what’s her name” can’t take it anymore as she’s always been in competition with Hetchman’s hats, just doing the “shitty” work, and so she steals his favorite fedora (he’s enthralled each time he puts the hat on his head hearing the music of the hat) and disappears from the years of a loveless marriage.


The very comical next door neighbor Meckel (Peter Friedman) visits frequently giving love hugs to Hetchman (with a clothespin on his nose because Hetchman stinks) but he, too, can’t remember the Missus’ name.  They visit the cemetery on dead peoples’ day.


There’s also the hulking Golem (Harts) who supplies colorful glowing memory jars for the characters to peak into as scenes come alive.


The flashbacks from now reality (Voice and Gabe) to the past – Hetchman and wife –  flow with ease as director Rachel Chavkin (who also directed the spectacular Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), takes great care in accessorizing sound and original music (Ryan Rumery) with lighting effects (Amith Chandrashaker).


There’s a good deal of emotional highs and lows and many ha, ha moments.  However, the story begins to wear thin as it moves along even in this one-act, 1 hr. 30 minutes.


Lessons learned . . . we all need love to grow and blossom.  Yee has found a magical method of presenting a truth in an almost child-like way – a fable of fantasy that just may be too cutesy.

*Photos: Carol Rosegg

Playwrights Realm at Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 West 42 Street, NYC thru Sept. 21. 212 279-4200