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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Polonsky Shakespeare Center


  Jeffrey Bean and Carrie Paff/ Ph: Henry Grossman

How often, outside of dreams, do we get to summon lost loved ones in the flesh? It’s a dicey proposition, balancing the pain of grief with all the joys remembered. Celebrated author Calvin Trillin meets this challenge touchingly in his homage About Alice, adapted from the book of the same name, which in turn originated as a 2011 New Yorker article commemorating his wife, who died of cancer in 2001.

Jeffrey Bean plays the author with wry restraint (“I’ve decided that wry means almost funny,” Trillin observes.) The resurrected Alice – here portrayed by Carrie Paff – could easily come across as cutesy or cloying. She is, after all, meant to embody the Perfect Woman. But Paff evokes this worthy partner with a shining intelligence and irresistible charm. She fits Trillin’s description perfectly. As he recalls his first impression of Alice, at a magazine party in the early 60s, “She looked more alive than anyone I’d ever seen. She seemed to glow.”

We’re privileged to follow along as their relationship deepens, from a very weird first date at the Bronx Zoo (prepare to look up “takin”) through parenthood, career accomplishments (for both) and a series of wrenching diagnoses. Most of Alice’s side of the dialogue is drawn from her own essays and letters. Through them, she lives on.


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