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  • gilwilson 1:35 PM on January 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    “Molly Sweeney” By Brian Friel 

    molly“Molly Sweeney”
    By Brian Friel
    Narrated by: Jenny Bacon, Robert Breuler, Rick Snyder
    Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
    Release date: 02-16-10
    Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

    This is the second story of a blind person regaining sight I’ve listened to in the past month.  Not sure why, but my reading list has led me down the path of disabilities.  The last one I read, “Love and First Sight,” was a YA novel following a young boy who regains his sight in modern times.  This time around it is a play that takes place in a remote Irish village, I’m not too sure of the time period, but it seems that it is during a time where restoring sight is just short of miraculous.

    The play is performed through a series of monologues from the three main characters, Molly, her husband, Frank, and Dr. Rice.    From what I gathered the two men have no real interest in how Molly feels about all this and judging from the tragic end, I would say Molly is not too happy about the promise of a sighted life.

    Dr. Rice seems to be only interested in gaining back his standing in the medical world.  Alcoholism has taken most of that away from him, but now he may be able to redeem himself.  So his interest is very selfish.

    Molly’s husband, Frank is pushing her to the surgery with no concern for her feelings or risks.  While Molly has led a happy life for 40 years, all while sightless.

    The two men never really care about how Molly would be able to handle the sudden influx of visual information.

    The complete lack of interaction between the characters helps to solidify the lack of concern from all but Molly.  There’s a moment when Molly get’s angry and delivers a scathing monologue, but with no one listening it is a perfect example of how her feelings are never considered.

    The performances in the L.A. Theatre Works production are once again perfect and the production puts you once again in the middle of the show.

    Publisher’s Summary
    Molly Sweeney, by the great Irish playwright Brian Friel, tells the story of married couple Molly and Frank, who live in a remote Irish village. Molly has been blind since birth, but now a surgeon – Mr. Rice – believes he may be able to restore her sight. In a series of interwoven monologues, Molly Sweeney takes us into the minds of three people with very different expectations of what will happen when Molly regains her vision.

    ©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 4:17 PM on January 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    “Lucy” By Damien Atkins 

    By: Damien Atkins
    Narrated by: Lucy DeVito, Roxanne Hart, Geoffrey Lower, Sarah Rafferty, Raphael Sbarge
    Length: 2 hrs and 3 mins
    Release date: 02-02-10
    Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

    I have recently found myself exploring books and stories that deal with the human condition in relation to disabilities.  Not sure why this is but it just seems to wind up on my listening/reading list this way.  I’ve gotta get back to my sci-fi reading soon.  Until then I will explore humanity.  This time around the story revolves around autism and how it affects the family.

    Never having had to deal with anyone in the spectrum, I really have no point of reference on this.  I do know people with autism and friends with autistic children, but I have never had to experience this first hand.  That being said understand that this review will not consist of how the story addresses autism but rather how the story is told.

    One thing to note is that this is an L.A. Theatre Works production and that the performance is beautiful.  The acting and performance as a whole is stellar.  I have never had a bad experience with any LATW production.

    Lucy is a 13 year old who has autism.  She has lived all her life with her father but at 13 there are certain things puberty brings that the father doesn’t think he’s capable of handling.  So he leaves Lucy with her mother.  This part of the story was a bit sketchy for me, but it was necessary for the rest of the play to continue.  I just couldn’t see a dad pretty much abandoning his child.  Sure, it was with her mother but the mother was out of the picture for nearly all of those 13 years.

    As the rest of the story goes, Lucy’s mom struggles with learning how to deal with the schedules and emotions of a child with autism.  The mother also begins to obsess over her guilt of not being there for Lucy.  Soon Lucy’s mother, who is an anthropologist begins to theorize that autism is the next step in the evolutionary process of humanity.  So much so that she makes this the subject of a book that has been in demand for some time from her publisher.  The problem is she starts letting Lucy do what she wants, pretty much, and Lucy’s welfare comes into question.

    What I found most interesting in this performance were the insights where the playwright gave Lucy monologues in which she could step out of her own brain and express her normality.  I was intrigued by these and at the same time emotionally stirred.

    Nice performance but I see some holes in the story.

    Publisher’s Summary
    In a thought-provoking new play, 13 year old Lucy, who suffers from autism, moves in with her estranged, misanthropic mother. Having lived her entire life with her father, Lucy, as well as her mom, struggle with all the difficulties of such an arrangement.
    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Lucy DeVito, Roxanne Hart, Geoffrey Lower, Sarah Rafferty and Raphael Sbarge.
    Lucy is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

    ©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 3:41 PM on January 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    “Love and First Sight” By Josh Sundquist 

    loveandfirstsightLove and First Sight
    By: Josh Sundquist
    Narrated by: Pat Young
    Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
    Release date: 01-03-17
    Publisher: Hachette Audio

    I have to admit at first while listening to this audiobook, I was worried I had grabbed another whiney angsty teen novel.  For the most part YA fiction can be some really nice stories and story telling but many of them fall prey to the “let’s make a romance novel for kids” genre.  This one starts in that direction and you do get a bit of the whiney but not necessarily from the lead character, Will Porter, but from some of his friends.  What I, at first, got from Will was that he was a smug know-it-all and being blind made him better.  I’ll talk more about the love interest later.

    I pulled up my bootstraps and kept rolling with this book only because of the author’s description of how it is being blind.  I have several blind friends (it’s because of one of those friends I started listening to audiobooks in the first place) and I have never really understood what their life is like.  Josh Sundquist writes about that experience through Will Porter and gave me a better understanding of what a sightless world is like.  Concepts such as perspective and colors were explained to me in ways I never would have even considered and then when Will gets the miracle surgery restoring his eyesight, the learning HOW to see floored me.  I’ve since talked this over with one of my friends and he said that it sounded like some of the reasons he has not considered gaining eyesight if the chance arose.  Sundquist’s descriptions are very thought provoking.

    The problem with this story is there is a bit of a forced love interest.  Will meets new friends as he tries to be mainstreamed in a “normal” school.  Apparently Will was a big deal at his school for the blind, now, not so much.  He becomes friends with kids on the Quiz Team and begins to fall for a girl who seems to be hiding something.  After gaining sight he learns she has a huge birthmark on her face.  At this point he feels betrayed in that no one told him about her face.   Here’s where the book pretty much lost me again.

    What I got from the book is the awesome descriptions of life from a blind person’s point of view.  What I disliked were the two-dimensional portrayals of human love and interaction.

    Publisher’s Summary
    In his debut novel, YouTube personality and author of We Should Hang Out Sometime Josh Sundquist explores the nature of love, trust, and romantic attraction.
    On his first day at a new school, blind 16-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?
    As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a charming, quiet girl named Cecily. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty – in fact everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?
    Told with humor and breathtaking poignancy, Love and First Sight is a story about how we relate to each other and the world around us.

    ©2017 Josh Sundquist (P)2017 Hachette Audio

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