Talley's Folly | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Talley's Folly, Northlight Theatre. If ever a show enlisted the audience as unseen matchmakers, it's Lanford Wilson's 1980 Pulitzer winner, an offbeat romance between two opposites. There's a seemingly unbridgeable gulf between Matt Friedman, an optimistic middle-aged Jewish accountant from Saint Louis, and Sally Talley, a 31-year-old WASP who nurses soldiers back to health and neglects her own needs. But we know how good they would be for each other, and it's 1944: second chances are a luxury. Reluctant lovers thrown together by default, they don't like where they've come from and fear where they're going. But being together makes everything more than bearable.

Matt introduces their unlikely love scene as "a waltz." And the dialogue--which varies from gossamer lyricism to hard-edged negotiation--has that supple dance's ebb and flow. The setting is a dilapidated Missouri boathouse with a filigreed gazebo (her folly) bathed in moonshine. It's the Fourth of July--the perfect day for their own declarations of independence.

Director Kate Buckley stages the script as a dissonant duet that resolves into a harmonious song. Matt DeCaro radiates confidence as the no-nonsense suitor with a solution for every problem. Equal parts spunk and shyness, Lia Mortensen's Sally is a joy to watch as she discovers that, despite what her family says, differences can be wonderful. See what a little moonlight can do.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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