Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Falling for Falling

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Falling, which opened last night at the Minetta Lane Theatre, educates about autism as well as moves while avoiding after-school special cliches.

Josh (Daniel Everidge) is 18 years old and severely autistic. He lives with his parents, Tami (Julia Murney) and Bill (Daniel Pearce), and sister Lisa (Jacey Powers). They have developed systems for keeping Josh and each other safe, such as the code word "peanut butter" to let each other know when Josh is agitated. When Bill's mother (Celia Howard) comes to town, it complicates Josh's routine.

Everidge is extremely convincing, so much so that it is jarring when he appears at one point in the show as a character without autism. There isn't a weak link in the cast, directed by Lori Adams, but Murney is also a standout. The audience feels every bit of her pain and the love she has for her family.

Playwright Deanna Jent, who has an autistic son, has given us an honest window into the lives of people with autism and their families, but not at the expense of character. We get to know and care for this family, which is especially impressive given that we only spend an hour and 15 minutes with them. Without giving too much away, credit must be given to movement and fight director Rick Sordelet for the most startling realistic violence I've seen on stage in a long time.

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