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Wren’s Play Debuts at the Nyack Village Theatre

Wren’s Play Debuts at the Nyack Village Theatre

by Dan Lukens
Playwrite Myles Wren’s new work, “It Might Have Been” opened at the Nyack Village Theatre on Main Street in Nyack, New York on May 18, with an encore performance on June 20. I was very pleased to be able to attend the June 20, performance.

“It Might Have Been,”  is an account of two former institution residents. Act one opens in the bedroom of a group home as dying elderly resident, Arline (Susan Gorman), meets an eager young volunteer, Iris (Megan Lee Jordan). A friendship develops as Arline takes Iris, and the audience, on an emotional journey that chronicles the dying woman’s arduous and often degrading life in a state institution.

The play’s second story is told as a monologue as Doug (Douglas Keller) describes an unlikely friendship built on a mistaken identity. Again, the speaker is a young volunteer whose very normal existence is cast against the protagonist, Arthur’s, experiences of humiliation and lost potential.

Wren’s play is as authentic as the performances are convincing. There is nothing syrupy here but there is also little relief. Arline’s and Iris’ relationship culminates in an especially painful moment as Arline insists that her young friend take her most prized possessions, her doll collection as a kind of legacy of her lost life. And, as these most treasured items are rendered, we feel them given not as inanimate objects, but more like the children that never were.

Similarly, Doug’s (Keller’s) story about Arthur is artfully developed in a way that, at first, seems almost too informal, too conversational. Doug talks about Arthur, as he talks the audience into a more personal and human view of a man who knew little of these things in his own life.

As I experienced Wren’s play I must confess that I waited for the feel good moment for Arline and Arthur that never comes. There is no light at the end of this tunnel for Wren’s leading characters but we find it through their friendships. They learn to care and so do we.

“It Might Have Been” is about transformation as Wren’s characters draw us in and confront us with their humanness. It’s not an easy ride, but its well worth the trip.

Kudos to Wren and to performers Susan Gorman, Megan Lee Jordan, Douglas Keller and Teresa Bachanas who play Marie, the residence staff.

 

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