"It's a terrible thing to hate someone you love so much."
The honey of this play's title is literally an hallucenogenic, potentially toxic stuff that first one character,then a second, nicks from the Iliad. But this is an Amy Hartman play -- a darkly comic, tragic romance -- so "mad honey"is also a metaphor for love.
"I want to eat his letters. I'm so hungry for them."
Hartman's characters are usually lonely -- desperately so. In The Chicken Snake, Disinfecting Edwinand Mad Honey, they're so desperate that they lie, kidnap, steal babies and kill; they blackmail the objects of their love for requital.
"The perfume of his sour breath made me drunkand greedy."
Hartman is a poet of this sort of naked desire, and her poetry is fully on display in this world premiere, directed by Robin Walsh. The whole cast -- Autumn Ayers, Paul Ford, Laurie Klatscher, Matt McNear, Maggie Ryan -- is fine. But one small detail really struck me. Watch Klatscher's character, a repressed schoolteacher whose only family was a boy dropped on her doorstep whom she can't bear to surrender. Klatscher plays comic neuroses with wonderful precision, but there's real pain here: Her character never looks at another character, even when she's talking to him or her. The moment that finally changes is striking, but it's a long and painful road.
"I was in love once -- a love so fierce it stole my life away."
The Chicken Snake, at Pitt's Studio Theatre, concludes with four more performances, nightly through Sat., July 17 (www.unseamd.com).