This is America just before the influx of television, and radio is the only lifeline of imaginary escape in the home of Doc and Lola, played with remarkable depth by Mark Yochum and Susan McGregor-Laine. They live inward-looking existences, like figures inhabiting Baroque paintings that fear to gaze beyond the darkness surrounding them.
In the first moment of the first scene, Yochum reduces the ethos of the entire drama into the micro-gesture of his hand reaching past a whiskey bottle for something in the cupboard. This minute hesitation presages horrendous actions later on.
The gifted McGregor-Laine is Doc’s wife, as hopelessly lost in the past as she is lost from her own future. The acuity of her near-stuttering speech during stressful episodes is utterly convincing and masterful.
John E. Lane Jr.’s set brings us not just into the Delaney home, but into the occupants’ psyches. You can almost smell the dirty wax on the linoleum floors of this seedy house. Instead of being portrayed cramped as in many productions, the set spreads out so near the audience that those who are faint of heart are advised not to sit in the front row — especially during Doc’s drunken rage when he carves up the room with a hatchet.
Lighting designer Christina Levi often tunes the illumination mid-scene as if to embellish certain dramatic beats the way a musical score usually does.
The creative risks this production takes are all the more rewarding for their subtlety. How rare to encounter a performance so immediate that you feel like you’ve become trapped in the chiaroscuro of its world.