When the first line of a play starts with “fifteen years ago I killed my sister” there should be little surprise as what to expect. And Nocturne, the Twenty Something Theatre production now on stage at the Havana Theatre, delivers on the promise of those first seven words. What was surprising though was with so much of playwright Adam Rapp’s monologue weighed down in literary sensibilities, how much of the play’s theatricality is lost.
A struggling novelist, the narrator in this tragic tale played by Troy Anthony Young (pictured right), tells us the story of how in a single fateful moment in his life, and that of his family, is forever changed with the death of his younger sister. From the destruction of his relationship with his parents, their subsequent estrangement, to his escape to New York and into books, we follow him on his journey to redemption.
There is a genuine feeling of melancholy that permeates through Young’s solo performance that is punctuated at times with the narrator’s recollections of his sister and his parents. It is in these infrequent points that playwright Rapp seems to get out of his head and into his heart, and for me were the most successful.
There is also a dual nature to the play, with a very distinct feel and tone between the first and second half. Not surprisingly, given that change in tone, Nocturne is sometimes done in two acts. Director Sabrina Everett has wisely chosen to present this version without intermission, allowing us to participate in the narrator’s journey uninterrupted.
Nocturne’s lament is heart-felt and Young brings an honest realization to Rapp’s words, but I couldn’t help but think it would make for a better read; I wanted more of an opportunity to linger over the full richness of all its words.
By Adam Rapp. Directed by Sabrina Evertt. A Twenty Something Theatre production. On stage at the Havana Theatre through February 27, 2011.