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Full-length plays for two actors are in greater demand than ever before now that more regional companies are webcasting their shows. Not only are they simpler and safer to stage than big-cast productions, but they can often be performed by married couples or domestic partners, thus minimizing the risk of spreading COVID beyond a single household. To be sure, many such plays are undemanding commercial vehicles written solely to entertain, but some are works of real quality that offer the viewer a more challenging kind of pleasure.
Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly,” first performed in 1979, is a choice example of the second kind of play. Though charming and sweetly romantic, it’s not a Neil Simon-type clockwork comedy but a poignant study of love among the no-longer-young that won its author a well-deserved Pulitzer. Yet it doesn’t get staged nearly enough—the only revival I’ve reviewed in this space was the Roundabout Theatre Company’s superb 2013 off-Broadway production—for which reason I’m pleased to report that Syracuse Stage’s new webcast, a version of “Talley’s Folly” directed by Robert Hupp and taped without an audience on the company’s mainstage, is an entirely satisfying production, one whose stars, Jason O’Connell and Kate Hamill, are married in real life….
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The trailer for Talley’s Folly: