Falling by Deanna Jent: Autism case study Off B'way
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
It’s unclear where exactly FALLING, a new 75 minute play by Deanna Jent, takes place. It could be in anyone’s middle class home looking very much like a traditional Hallmark television presentation with children’s toys scattered around the living room.
Also unclear is what the parents of 18 year old Josh (an exceptional Daniel Everidge, giving a fine, moving performance) who is autistic do for a living, besides taking care of Josh – a full time job, each other and their daughter.
What is very clear and what matters most is how difficult it is grappling with a child who is autistic - both for the parents Tami (Julia Murney) and Bill (Daniel Pearce) and sarcastic sibling - 16 year old Lisa (Jacey Powers). You will come to the conclusion that love does conquer all. It has to.
Eighteen years of not knowing when Josh will become violent – it only takes a second for things to go wrong. Eighteen years of trying to understand his limited vocabulary. And playing games. And having “code” words” and having enough patience to get though each day under extremely difficult circumstances.
Just getting him ready for the bus to take him to school is a major event. He would rather have the feeling of feathers falling on him from a box set up to do this and then dancing his “Happy Dance”.
And then dad’s mom, Grammy Sue (Celia Howard) comes to visit for a week with some broken toes, her own sugar substitute, her Bible and a gift for Josh after not seeing him for three years.
Grammy Sue seems not to have been in close contact all those years. She is shocked at how Josh acts in front of her – he oblivious of her and massaging his nipples and masturbating. She has the perfect solution. Pray. After all, God has a plan and Josh has been born with his ailment for a reason.
Mom’s solution? Wine and a couple of fantasies that help her cope. One of which is a tried and true theatrical trick that works up to a point but dissipates the true impact of this somewhat successful and admirable attempt at having us take a look into the private lives of those who must deal with such excruciating problems.
Lori Adams directs this educational albeit not altogether successful dramatization.
At The Minetta Lane Theatre
Photo: Carol Rosegg