It’s hard for me to talk about something I love because I’m afraid I won’t do it justice. That’s why I’m a little hesitant to write about this play. I would never be able to describe the emotions and sense of familiarity the production gave me. However, I will say, understatedly so, Women and Wallace astounded me. I wasn’t expecting something so remarkable; I was expecting an amateur performance by a bunch of riled up teen actors, not an experience that would actually alter my opinion of theatre. I wanted to jump up during the duration of the play and shout, “That’s me.” I wanted to hug the characters, they mirrored everyone I loved and everyone I wish I knew. They were endearing, they were poignant. I wanted to put the play on film and distribute it to every high school in America; it was that mind-blowing.
Sydney Tucker, Olivia Zech, Sarah Youssefi and Sam Tilles in YATC's Women and Wallace.
Photo by Johnny Valencia.
This play, aside from being particularly relatable to a teen, offered up bounties of wisdom that seemed astounding to even the most intelligible adults in the room. The actors felt like people, not like characters for the sake of having characters. Wallace Kirkman (Sam Tilles) felt so real in his performance. He wasn’t a two dimensional creation of Jonathan Kare Sherman, the author of this play, but a real person who happened to be living his life on stage in front of fifty people. Wallace, at the mere age of six, found his mother lying dead on the kitchen floor: she had committed suicide. From then on, the audience observed Wallace grow into a young man of eighteen, with intervals of age thirteen and sixteen. Each age was introduced by Wallace with the vocalization of his name, age and a poem that essentially summed up his feelings at that moment in life. Throughout his adolescence, most of his issues were stemmed back to his mother’s death: every problem he seemed to have with women, even from age six, was extraneously blamed on his mother. Although the play revolved around some obviously heavy topics, it was mixed with an amount of light-hearted humor that perfectly suited the mood. Grandmother, played by Annie Loggins, allowed the audience to laugh at her quirky character: she had the habit of collecting the most recent photograph of her deceased friends. She also was what every grandmother should be-offer love for a confused teenage grandchild, or cookies when love isn’t enough. The dialogue further enhanced my appreciation for the performance. It was endearing, and it was what teenagers would actually say in real life, swearing and all. Wallace, when asked to clarify what he meant about a statement, replied, “I don’t know what I mean, I’m sixteen.” This truly struck a chord with me; it’s difficult for teenagers to know what they mean in general when they hardly know where they stand in the force field of life. Of all the women Wallace encountered: Sarah (Olivia Zech), Lili (Sydney Tucker), Wendy (Rebecca Mostow), and Victoria (Sarah Youssefi), only one truly caught Wallace’s heart: Nina (Chelsea Taylor).
Sarah Youssefi and Sam Tilles in YATC's Women and Wallace.
Photo by Johnny Valencia.
However, during Wallace and Nina’s relationship, he was faced with the cruel effects and consequences of infidelity. Through these tribulations, he grew and learned that women don’t always abandon and leave when living becomes hard, and that true love is difficult to come by. But even when true love does arise between those two people, Wallace discovers that the willingness to take the blows that inevitably come with any relationship is fundamental to a successful love life. He learns to accept that he will be hurt while involved with a woman, but you must love despite that knowledge.
Women and Wallace
Young Americans' Theatre Company at the Little Theatre
Through Sunday, August 17th