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“Molly Sweeney,” Brian Friel’s 1994 play about a 41-year-old woman blind from early childhood onward whose sight is unexpectedly restored by surgery, hasn’t been done in New York since the Irish Repertory Theatre’s superb 2011 production. Now Keen Company, one of my favorite off-Broadway troupes, is presenting a small-scale revival of this three-hander that is noteworthy for an unusual piece of casting: Pamela Sabaugh, the first low-vision actor ever to play Molly, is reprising the groundbreaking performance she gave at Philadelphia’s Amaryllis Theatre Company 12 years ago, this time in a version staged by Jonathan Silverstein, Keen’s artistic director. I didn’t see Ms. Sabaugh in Philadelphia, but it’s hard to imagine anything better than her calm, centered acting as the Molly of this production, who discovers that the world of sight she was once forced to imagine is not so miraculous as she had always supposed.
I was struck by the subtlety with which Ms. Sabaugh and Mr. Silverstein bring out an aspect of the play that was not fully clear to me when I first saw it: Strong as she seems to be, Molly is in truth a victim, a woman to whom men do things for reasons of their own….
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