Discussing “A Place for Us”

Review by Carol W. Berman of “A Place For Us” written and directed by Anthony M. Laura

The play opens with an ordinary enough scene of a mother, Judith (played by Donna White), chatting while folding laundry and a daughter, Hannah (played by Madison Murrah), disengaged from the conversation. The two quarrel about some trivia. In a short time, the mother presents a bloody towel to the daughter and asks her what caused this. The daughter replies that she had a bloody nose, but somehow we doubt it. A stranger, Natalie (played by Raina Silver), enters and proclaims the house hers. She questions why Judith and Hannah are even there. The mother threatens to call the police, but the father, Vincent (played by Emerson Buchholz), appears instead. The daughter Hannah is happy to see him. Vincent tells Natalie to leave but she again insists that it’s her house. The family has dinner together with Natalie, who baked a cake. I suppose the implication is that they will all live there together, happily or not.

If someone came into my house and said it was hers, I would engage in a much bigger battle with the person than this family did. As a consequence, I spent a long time thinking about who or what the stranger Natalie might be. Is she a ghost? (She says she’s a hundred years old, but appears only about 20.) Is she the daughter’s imaginary friend solidified into flesh? (Natalie kisses Hannah, even though Hannah makes it clear she’s not gay.

And they go off into the bedroom after that.) Then to add more mystery to the situation Natalie reveals she’s pregnant so the family doesn’t have the heart to kick her out. (I also imagined she was a homeless pregnant woman who devised a brilliant scheme to get domiciled.) To give them credit, the actors do their best to make sense of the script.

The mystery is never solved.

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CAROL W. BERMAN, M.D. is a playwright who when she is not writing is listening to patients. Carol’s first play, UNDER THE DRAGON, was produced by The Workshop at The Neighborhood Playhouse in 2002. Her second play, SUNSHINE SALLY, was produced in 2007. Her third play, PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT, and fourth play, BROWNSTONE BREAKDOWN, were produced by Egoactus Company in New York City. IN THE KINGDOM OF SAM played at the Manhattan Repertory Theater and PARKING LOT 63 had a run at the Hudson Guild Theater. LIGHT MY FIRE was presented as a staged reading at the Dixon Place Theater. In May 2019, under the auspices of the American Psychiatric Association, her play UNDER THE DRAGON was featured as a media session at the APA’s annual conference in San Francisco. Many of her ten-minute plays were in festivals in New York City and London. Carolwberman.com

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