The Avery Schreiber Playhouse Presents “Sight Unseen”

Written by Donald Margulies. Directed by Erin Lann.

This Obie Award-winning play is about a slightly obnoxious highly successful artist with a young and pregnant wife back in the US who, upon having his first show in London, decides to visit his first love and muse who lives in the UK.

They have barely spoken since he unceremoniously dumped her at his mother’s funeral while they were still in college, where they met.  She posed naked for him in his art class and still owns the painting he made of her.

It’s an odd thing longing.  It can be applied in so many ways.  Longing for lost love, longing for forgiveness, longing for release.  This play covers all three of those particular examples and a few more besides and gives us the glorious complications of this inevitable reunion, the results of which are unexpected and difficult and sad, but in the end absolutely necessary.

It’s quite beautifully written.  Almost Pinter like in places, but with enough of a nod to the Americans amongst it to feel a little more lively.  It’s mostly set in the muse’s small home where she lives with her husband, who she married so she could stay in the UK when her student visa ran out, something she happily tells the artist.  Her husband loves her deeply and is determined that this rich American who he thinks still holds his wife’s heart leave with not even his dignity.

The play is a bit cat and mouse, a bit heartbreak and a bit “be careful what you wish for.” 

It’s an interesting mix.  Some side scenes with a German art journalist who questions this Jewish artist on the Judaistic undercurrents in his work creates quite a bit of tension, friction and understandable outbursts.  It seems like the artist’s guilt seeps into every aspect of his paintings and leaves them cold and detached, but not his first portrait of his muse, painted before the guilt grew when he was 22 and falling in love.

“Sight Unseen” is a beautiful play and gives these marvelous actors a chance to be utterly brilliant.  They are subtle and brooding and gorgeously tense.  They prowl around each other effortlessly, brimming with resentment and unresolved issues.  It gives such a lovely edge to their politeness.  They all perform stillness superbly….that must be the Pinter reference.

It’s not a long run and you would be stunningly foolish to miss it.  This play was produced with love and reverence to the material and with care that belies its simplicity.  In short, I bloody loved it!!!

Running October 4 through 20, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Avery Schreiber Playhouse, 4934 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91602

The cast:

Adam Wasser, Jodi Dennithorne, Breon Bliss and Holly McKee-Clark.