Presented by and at the WorkShop Theater Company, 312 W. 36 St., 4th fl., NYC, Nov. 13-22.
Dealing with death and the loss of loved ones has been the subject of many plays, films, and TV movies, but rarely has the theme been so thoroughly examined as it has been by playwright Jake Jay in his dramatic work "Solace."
The story centers on two men who are complete opposites, yet connected by their feelings of mourning and grief. Matt (Jeffrey Robert Taylor) is a young man who is rude and crude and having a difficult time getting over the death of his wife. Gary (Dustye Winniford) is calm and refined and quietly trying to confront his anger at the passing of his male lover. Though they meet in a slightly contrived manner—Matt winds up in a gay bar after a drunken night out and Gary mistakenly takes him home—the pair's true connection is a strong woman, Chris (Cecelia Frontero). She is Matt's sister and Gary's confidante, and the driving force behind both men recovering from their personal demons.
Jay covers all the bases regarding the topic of loss, and yet leaves enough areas for viewers to fill in their own blanks as well. Smartly, he also includes some lighthearted banter among the three, and has interwoven each scene so that one flows smoothly into the next. Director David M. Pincus keeps the emotional level high while drawing sympathetic portrayals out of his compelling cast. His staging of the script's overlapping transitions is exemplary, utilizing Richard Kent Green's warm-hued lighting to good effect.
The performers bring both dignity and frustration to the forefront of their portrayals, and the results make for complex, nuanced characterizations. Winniford is a pillar of strength with inner vulnerability as Gary, while Taylor combines macho surliness and brooding intensity as Matt. As Chris, Frontero is constantly concerned and totally committed.