Talley's Folly - Pfft, More Like Danny's Folly

In what totally caught me by a pleasant surprise, here was my thought-speak regarding the opening minutes of Talley's Folly:

Oh My God - the set is STUN-NING.

Wait, did Danny Burstein just come through the audience?

What? I didn't expect this show to break the fourth wall like this.

What the hell is he talking about? Bumblebees? Is the whole show going to be like this?

Oh wait, never mind. Danny's really good playing this charismatic, 40's charming suitor--type.

Wait, is he doing his monologue again? He is! At a faster pace! I give...he's amazing!

I found my reaction to this shocking because I never was aboard the Danny Burstein love-train (I still have no idea what, the eff, he was doing in Follies). But his entire performance in Talley's Folly, now open at the Laura Pelham Theater, was an astonishing feat. His Matt, a sort-of drifter trying to reconnect with Sally (his fling from the previous summer), could have come off sleazy and creepy. But in Burstein's hands, his character's "head in the clouds" mentality as he dreams of making the relationship work, is a rhapsodic level of endearing and also kind of dorky as he goes about waltzing around and wearing ice skates in a boat house.

In the end, the audience falls for Matt and stares daggers at Sally for, to put it bluntly, having a stick up her ass. Or, we would have been if Sarah Paulson's "strong, yet vulnerable" take on Sally, the isolated member of her family who is super apprehensive about Matt turning up unprompted, wasn't also well done. With her pretty yellow dress and period-styling, it was as if Paulson just time-traveled right to the present for the show.

Lanford Wilson's writing holds up well too. Occasionally spotty, but mostly, one of those smart pieces you would want to read in bed at night with a glass of wine or a pint or four of ice cream. It isn't exactly an easy-to-watch show, but the language and words just flow so harmoniously, that point hardly matters. Besides, Jeff Cowie's GORGEOUS "boat house meets southern meadow chic" set design and the two central performances are more then enough to keep your attention. And from where I stand, I keep going back to exactly that - the performances. Talley's Folly may be a period, adult love-story; but now, it is also the occasion where I finally understood what Burstein's hype was all about. Considering he is in, like, everything nowadays, I can be happy about that fact whenever his name pops up in casting announcements.

Photo Credit: Broadway.com

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