Poignant and masterfully told, this "story within a story" holds humor and unflinching heartbreak as we are allowed to bear witness to Joe's life. Actors Rachel Boller and Gary Rubenstein give stunningly powerful performances. The toughest critic I know, my 17 year old daughter, turned to me when it was over and said, "that was really good." Indeed....
'Gentle Passage' is a one act, two-hander about an alzheimer's clinician, Anna, and her patient, Joseph.
Starting on opposite sides of the stage and perspective the two start an unlikely relationship over a series of tests and Q&As.
Joseph, an older gay man (Gary Rubenstein)is there for the money. Anna (Rachel Boller), a demoted PhD, is there to simply get through it and on the way to tenure.
Through-out this one-act of fade-ins and outs (like memory itself) Joseph recounts a storied childhood of abuse and incest with a verve and affection that belies the very nature of it's content. While this wretched disease robs Joseph of his memory it takes nothing from his spirit.
A piece that begs to be played maudlin, Rubenstein and Boller manag...
certified reviewerJune 16, 2012
"Gentle Passage" is strong stuff. Read about the plot elsewhere but what you most take away from it is power of two highly skilled, tightrope-walking performances. Rachel Boller makes poignant and believable her angry bureaucratic character's journey from detached, cold and impersonal to empathic and less guarded. She is powerful and deeply moving. Her foil is the character played by Gary Rubenstein, who portrays with disarming humor, charm, candor and, finally, heartbreaking anguish portrays just how indomitable the human spirit can be, even in the face of almost inconceivable childhood neglect and abuse. Rubenstein resists playing for pathos and instead gives a piercing performance that packs a wallop. The chemistry between the actor...
Heartbreaking and heartwarming in perfect balance. Ironically called Gentle Passage, Paul Elliot and Ed Joswick's play takes you on a journey that rings true. Down the rocky road of how memories can become nightmares as a man loses his mind and ultimately his life. Gary Rubenstein and Rachel Boller are riveting on stage leading you through his struggle with his final stage of life. He does not "go quietly into that gentle night." ...
This show takes you on an emotionally moving, satisfying journey. Told simply and effectively, this well-directed and carefully written (true) story is superbly acted by Gary and Rachael. I was wiping away tears at the end....
The story itself is a good give-and-take between a therapist and patient who can't help but develop a closeness through painful revelations. Rachel Boller has the poise and presence that reminds one of Meryl Streep in roles where she slowly reveals her own hidden identity. Gary Rubenstein is fully engaging as a man in pain, but the twinkle in his eyes show as he's finally found someone whom he can trust and help him to release the memories until life imposes its own resolution.
Marilyn Hartman ...
Earlier today I reviewed a Fringe show and spent 3 sentences to essentially say "It did nothing for me. I left the theater unchanged in any way."
I'm awfully glad I prioritized seeing "Gentle Passage" yesterday. It destroyed me. During one specific scene change I burst into an audible sob, then somehow held it together (likely so I wouldn't miss any details) until the very end. The curtain call. Lights down and I lost it.
I couldn't control myself, sobbing all the way back to Fringe Central Station. A friend there understood immediately that all I needed was someone to listen (ironic considering the structure of the play) and a huge hug. I just needed to share this experience somehow.
A little more objectively, I also enjoyed how ...
The heart of this story sneaks into your consciousness slowly through the short vignettes that signify each visit Joseph has as part of a clinical medical study on trial medication for Alzheimer's.
Anna runs the one-on-one sessions as clinically and sterilized as she's become, both careerwise and personally. But after a few awkward and odd visits, Anna begins to learn of the tormented and abusive past Joe has endured, along with his distress over feelings of losing parts of his past, and memories altogether, as he ages. She becomes intrigued by the bits and pieces of his past om which she diligently takes detailed notes.
Anna is moved by his plights and empathetically helps soothe his pain, even trying to find out which test medicati...
While I loved the actors and the performance, the truth is I was MOVED by the story, by the transformation in the two actors as they story progressed, and by the way the storyline was portrayed.
I have seen more than 50 plays this year, and this was one of the two most powerful pieces of Fringe 2012.
I could relate to everything that was happening, as I have had contact with mentally ill people in my life with a manic depressive/schizophrenic first wife. To watch Gary's character describe his childhood, and his lack of understanding as to whether he was suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia or another form of mental illness was impossible to ignore, because it brought back so many memories.
Likewise, Rachel's portrayal and transfo...