Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: Take away the claustrophobic sets and piles of clutter that mark the film that Working on a Special Day is based on, and lurking in its core is a remarkable story well suited for the stage. I’m trying to think of a word that sums up the essence of this very unusual 74 minute play that has both charm and substance.
Gail M. Burns: It is achingly simple, both in style and story. It gets at the very root of human need – for companionship, affection and physical intimacy.
Larry: Exactly, and The Play Company and Por Piedad Teatro have wrought a perfect distillation of the overwrought 1977 Italian film Una giornata particolare that was directed by Ettore Scola and starred Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. It captures the essence of two human beings whose lives are suffocating, although in completely different ways. From the first moments, with the house lights still on, it begins in a deceptively simple and creative way.
Gail: The actor/director/translators – Antonio Vega and Ana Graham – started the show in their street clothes, sharing the welcoming speech with BSC Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, and then chatting with the audience as they changed into their costumes and prepared the stage. This is a rare time when Barrington Stage Co. has “imported” a production on to their stage, in this case literally. Por Piedad Teatro is based in Mexico City and has as its mission: “…to promote the dialogue between two cultures – Mexican and American – so close to one another and yet so different, through cutting edge contemporary theater.” Previously the company’s only American performances have been in New York City, so it is exciting to have this production join the international offerings of the Berkshire Fringe in downtown Pittsfield this summer.