Writer: Susan Bernfield
Director: Portia Krieger
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Is progress political or personal? Susan Bernfield’s Tania in the Getaway Van tackles the question as to whether people, in this particular case, women, make life choices based upon their upbringing or else the cultural temperature during their coming-of-age.
The first two-thirds of the play are set in 1975, wherein an eleven-year-old, Patty Hearst-obsessed Laura witnesses her mother Diane’s decision to return to school and have a career. With second-wave feminism pervading the news around a brainwashed Patty Hearst and reruns of I Dream of Jeannie, young Laura is faced with discovering who she is and what she wants while she watches her mother do the same. A jump in time to 2012 revisits mother and daughter, as Diane prepares for retirement. Together, the women ruminate on the changes of the past 30 years and what it means for a woman to have choice. What does it mean to advocate for change? How does a revolution start, and where does one find the fire to change the world?
The all-woman cast is incredibly talented; most notably Cailtin Morris who plays both child and adult Laura with honesty and specificity. Her work with the vibrant Annie McNamara rings true to the challenges of mother-daughter dynamics. Director Portia Krieger has created a play that carries itself with precision and tenderness. The use of projections designed by David Bengall to introduce songs (the play is not a musical, but there are songs), establish setting and time, and provide inner monologue insight toes the line of distraction but never actually crosses it. They enhance more than detract from the human aspect of the piece.
Tania in the Getaway Van has a great deal of heart and carries the audience through time seamlessly. Even a house-lights snafu and a freezing auditorium can’t detract from the themes, performances, and beautiful design of the play. It is definitely a play to see before its close in December; just take a sweater along, like your mother would tell you to.
Runs until 16 December 2017 | Image: Ilyce Meckler