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Theater Notes: A triumphant play, ‘Body Awareness’

By Staff | Nov 19, 2014

The Gulfcoast Playhouse has done it again. They have risked bringing to the boards not a guaranteed crowdpleaser, but the brave and utterly challenging play “Body Awareness,” by the gifted 31-year-old Tony Award winning playwright Annie Baker.

It’s a probing play that demands a courageous audience. I can’t recommend it to the faint of heart, the timid theatergoer, or people looking for a feel-good matinee before a gourmet wine-filled dinner party.

For starters, “Body Awareness” is about a lesbian couple, one a high-school teacher, one a college professor living in smalltown Shirley, Vermont, and raising together a 21-year-old boy/man with Asperger’s syndrome.

Are you still there?

If so, you need to know the play is rich with laughter and the audience roared with delight all through it. Some of it is raw, some ribald, and all it in context. There is poignancy, tenderness and compassion in her writing. The characters are real and Baker takes you deep into their raging conflicts and issues. Watch for her, she is a rising star and this production proved it to me.

The cast is superb, worthy of the play’s upsetting questions and the chaos and confusion that ensues. The four actors are all Equity, and each was quite glorious. Go see for yourself.

There is no intermission, and I felt the full impact of what the playwright had asked us to look at. Congratulations to Cody Nickell, the director, who pulled it all off. He and Evan Middlesworth, the sound director, wove into the production the perfect music between each of the many scene changes.

The play may be over by the time this review makes it to the paper. It’s only one the boards until Nov. 16. I hope you get to see it. And if you don’t, I urge you to see what’s next at Kristen Courey’s Gulfshore Playhouse.

Mark your calendar right now, to make sure you get down to see Mr. Nicklell, the director of “Body Awareness,” now as a fine, fine actor in a repeat of their production of “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” a Christmas Carol like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I raved about it last year, and I bet I’ll go three more times this year, it was that brilliant.

Gulfshore Playhouse is at 755 8th Ave S., Naples/34102.

Buy tickets online, or call (866) 811-4111, or look them up at gulfshoreplayhouse.org

Theater Notes says, “Go there for theater that really matters.”