“Bright Half Life”, written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Dana Resnick ran in the Barnelle Theatre from August 29th to September 1st. The Barnelle Theatre, known for its unique set design and intimate black box layout, set the stage for the touching and tender story of two women falling in, and out of love with each other. The story is told through vignettes of the two character’s lives together; Vicky, played by Kayan Tara, is a pragmatic, dedicated workaholic, while Erica, played by Kate Bianco, is a free-spirited, sentimental force of change in Erica’s life. The show tackled numerous themes: LGBTQ+ issues, the collision of American and Indian cultures, work-life balancing, and the extent to which love really can – or can’t – “conquer all.”
Although audiences fell in love with Erica and Vicky’s heartwarming and compelling courtship, the story reveals its bittersweet ending within the first scenes of the play: despite spending decades together and raising children together, Erica and Vicky do eventually divorce. The unpredictability of the show is preserved through its unconventional format: the play doesn’t occur in chronological order, but instead shows us scattered scenes of the women’s life together, sometimes jumping forward and other times returning to the past. Thus, the show encourages viewers to stand in each moment with the two women and experience their highs and lows with them.
Erica and Vicky’s relationship received nearly two hours of development, giving ample time for the women’s personalities and values to be as fleshed out as their central relationship is. Likewise, Barfield’s modern, natural dialogue is enhanced by the sincere and believable performances of Tara and Bianco; taken altogether the show presents a uniquely told modern love story. The intimacy of a two person cast on the Barnelle stage offered a a closeness and connection that made seeing this show an emotionally satisfying and memorable evening.
Photos by Jason Munoz.