At curtain, 20-something Marie is folded into a chair in a depressing, disheveled bed-sitting room, blankly gazing at the silent wavy screen of a cheap TV set. A sudden knock at the door is followed by the sound of another woman's voice calling her name. That woman is 50-year-old Lorraine. Marie's reaction reveals a high degree of ambivalence about responding, but she ultimately opens the door. Lorraine is just out of prison, and it seems that Marie may have agreed to let Lorraine room with her upon release. Thus begins a delicate dance of wary friendship, with Lorraine wangling an invitation to stay for the night that somehow manages to extend itself day by day. Bursts of high spirits are punctuated with sullenness and argument. Both women not only withhold information but outright lie to each other. Marie longs for Lorraine's motherliness but is also terrified of accepting it, while Lorraine, determined to stay on, keeps hedging her thoughts and feelings.
Early on it feels as if Moss may be playing games keeping information from us, but it soon becomes apparent that these women, friends in prison, already know a lot of the things not being said. It's how the characters would behave with each other, not the hand of an overly manipulative playwright. We ultimately learn more than enough backstory to piece them together; indeed, character is built as much by avoidance as by revelation.
Falco and Pill, sporting convincing lower-class accents that sound as if they belong to the English Midlands, are beautifully in sync with each other as Lorraine and Marie stumble toward trust. Falco's Lorraine fuses a bewildered acceptance of some permanent inner damage with a shy wish for hope she strives to repress. The almost manic highs of Pill's Marie belie the listless, slack-eyed woman we see when Lorraine isn't present. When Marie cajoles Lorraine into a round of "floppy dollies," a childish game they played in prison, it feels as though an entire relationship is encapsulated in the frolic.
Rachel Hauck's set and Emily Rebholz's costumes are dead-on, with their detailed realism lit by Matt Frey's slightly stylized lighting. Indeed, the first image we see is of utter blackness except for a door upstage center, ajar, with a bright white light beckoning through it. The last image is of the two women standing and staring out the apartment's sole window, half in shadow and half drenched in similar white light. The complementary images suggest the tiny progress they have made, but if their progress is narrow, Moss' portrait is, as her title suggests, as wide as the night.
Presented by Naked Angels in association with Richie Jackson and Highbrow at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 416 W. 42nd St., NYC. May 16–June 20. Tue.–Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com.