The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp New Jersey Review

"It's just that I kind of see it up here as a fitting purgatory on earth for me, see. A direct reflection of the sum a' all my sins, which have brought me here, and on which I am now required to sit and ponder before I am allowed to die." — Ulysses

Gina Bonati and Peter Galman
(Photo: SuzAnne Barabas)
Ulysses (Peter Galman) isn't a pretty sight to behold when his ex-wife of twenty years Emma (Gina Bonati) barges unexpectedly into his equally unsightly mobile home high in the mountains in Paonia, Colorado. Aside from the medical backpack and oxygen tank strapped to his back and the bandage covering the center of his chest that suggests he has recently had an operation, he is standing virtually naked with only a pathetically small apron tied around his torso. This, he explains later is more than he usually wears living in semi-seclusion, except when it affords protection to his privates from the grease that spits from the pan when he fries sausage. His first words, however, to the woman whom he is seriously not happy to see is, "Holy crap." It's the best he can do and he repeats it a number of times as the unfazed and undeterred Emma drags in a pair of suitcases with a look and attitude that implies that she is here to stay.

Sharr White's two-hander is about the reuniting and possible reconciliation of a divorced couple whose marriage had come to a terrible end with an unforgivable event. There are many questions that will be answered and just as many that won't be during this disturbing and also confounding play in which two people who had once had a passionate and committed attachment to each other had subsequently become resigned to living with their rage and their willingness to find and affix blame.

The real circumstance that has evidently prompted Emma to seek out Ulysses is that their adult son whom Ulysses hasn't seen since Emma ran away with him twenty years ago is coming to see his father after hiring a detective to find him. Emma is determined to prepare Ulysses for the visit, and to also jar his apparently permanently lapsed memory as to what happened twenty years ago. Ulysses, who claims to have no idea why Emma left, has however been sending letters to his son whom we learn has a physical impairment. The letters, sent to Emma's mother were never answered.

It is soon enough revealed that Ulysses is not only a recovering, violence-prone alcoholic terminally ill with cancer, but also that the bruises that he sees on Emma's arms and shoulders have been caused by the man she subsequently married and has just run away from with a stash of his cash. The thrust of the play is devoted to defining their volatile relationship in the context of what they are going to do and how they reconcile their feelings for each other now.

Although the play's metaphorical title obviously alludes to Ulysses' aspirations as a poet and writer, it is the complexity of the physical attraction as well as the metaphysical bond between him and Emma, a staunch, unsentimental New Englander that gives us plenty to think about. It certainly remains for the two players to scale some very emotionally draining, physically demanding terrain symbolically not unlike that undertaken by the climber Maurice Herzog in his horrendous experience ascending and descending the famous Himalayan peak in his book with same name.

Although Galman has to defiantly bellow as much as bemoan how he has yet to atone for something he has done but can't remember, his performance is centered in a gritty practicalist's reality, one that is slowly and painstaking taking form in an epic poem that he has been writing on bits of paper over the years.

Perhaps additional performances will give Bonati time to settle into a less mannered performance as Emma, one that is less governed by arbitrary affectations and hopefully more by rooted with the simplicity of real feelings. Nevertheless, White's play, under the attentive direction of Suzanne Barabas, probes relentlessly and uncompromisingly into a tortured relationship that some will find, as I did, adventurous. Others may be inclined to see Ulysses and Emma as incorrigible and the play inscrutable. In any case, it is sure to initiate conversation and controversy.

Later this season, White will be making his Broadway debut with the Manhattan Theater Club's production of The Other Place, previously produced Off Broadway with Laurie Metcalf repeating her acclaimed performance.

In addition to sharing with the audience the news that The New Jersey Repertory Company was among the 2012 recipients that won an award given by the American Theater Wing to theater companies that “have articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theatre, Executive Director Gabor Barabas, announced that NJ Rep will be producing eight new plays within the next fourteen months. Now that's scaling the peak.

By Sharr White
Directed by Suzanne Barabas

Cast: Peter Galman (Ulysses), Gina Bonati (Emma)
Scenic Design & Properties: Jessica Parks
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes no intermission
New Jersey Repertory Company
179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ
(732) 229 - 3166
Tickets: $40.00
Performances: Thursday, Fridays, at 8 PM; Saturdays at 3 PM & 8 PM & Sundays at 2 PM with selected Sundays at 7 PM.
From 10/11/12 Opened 10/13 Ends 11/18/12
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 10/13/12
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Annapurna
  • I disagree with the review of Annapurna
  • The review made me eager to see Annapurna
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

>Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

You can also contact us at Curtainup at Facebook or Curtainup at Twitter
Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


©Copyright 2012, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from