The Gift, About Face Theatre, at Famous Door Theatre. This debut of writer-director Eric Rosen's full-length version of The Gift is a delightful work of theater that focuses on the chance meeting of a gay and a lesbian couple yet appeals to the humanity of any audience. Inspired by O. Henry's classic short story "The Gift of the Magi," Rosen tells his own tale of coincidence and the contemporary possibility of miracles with a subtle blend of humor and spiritual insight. Rosen's very real characters talk directly to the audience, reader's-theater style, then swiftly engage in the action of this tight play. What makes the piece so provocative is that, though the characters come from a variety of backgrounds, including Judaism, Christianity, and even paganism, the truths they discover about the nature of love are universal. In fact, some of the show's most beautiful moments aren't about romance but about the dynamics of love and loss between mothers and daughters.
With its five strong actors and the fine creative work of its designers, this production is as warm and inspiring as the script. Geoffrey M. Curley's imaginatively minimal set--pieces of a clock are the only stage furnishings--underscores Rosen's theme of the cyclic nature of time. Hopefully, strong productions of The Gift will return yearly as the dark months of winter approach, shedding some light on the seemingly random events that unravel our lives.
--Gabrielle S. Kaplan