Fortunately, Galatea is not just another tiresome reinterpretation of Pygmalion; playwright Frank Tangredi brings a fresh perspective to the old tale that is revelatory and moving.
Sculptor Merle Birmingham (Lorianne Hill), seeking a subject for her latest project, stumbles upon and decides to save Kate Hagen (Adrian Lee), a woman whose husband (Ronald Quigley) is verbally abusive to her. Merle is all sympathy, while the Hagen household is oppressive and cold. This one-dimensionality is reinforced by the continuous use of a split stage: Merle's cozy apartment on the left; the Hagen sterility on the right.
It is the strict creation of this divide that makes its unraveling so striking. The line between worlds becomes muddy as the characters' motivations become more muddled. Although the obvious irony in this reversal is a bit heavy-handed, the humanity that emerges from character tropes once set in stone is a sight to behold.
Presented by the Heather Company as part of the New York International Fringe Festival
at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., NYC.
Aug. 16-23. Remaining performances: Mon., Aug. 18, 5 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 19, 7 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 20, 2:45 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 23, 7 p.m.
(212) 279-4488 or (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.