Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

TheaterWorks Hartford
Review by Fred Sokol

Felicia Curry
Photo by Mike Marquez
There isn't any doubt that one may appreciate David Cale's impressive play, Sandra, now at TheaterWorks in Hartford through June 23, on multiple levels. It's a complicated mystery, a bravura performance by actress Felicia Curry in the title role, and a gracious, sometimes transfixing theatre experience through Camilla Tassi's video contributions. Those entering the theater immediately spot Curry, as Sandra, seated in a chair on the stage long before the one-woman show begins.

Sandra, during the early going, explains that her close friend Ethan is gone and she will leave Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and her cafe, to fly to Puerto Vallarta where she hopes to find him. His musical compositions are very much alive in Sandra's mind. She and her husband have separated and she might be underestimating that impact upon her. In Mexico, Sandra is intrigued with a man who is part Italian and named Luca. We know they will have an affair since Sandra finds Luca sexy and irresistible. That becomes predominant and could draw the theatregoer's attention away from her purpose: locating Ethan.

Curry's additional characters include the man who runs Sandra's Brooklyn cafe, the older guy who sits at the bar in Mexico, a surfer, and many, many more. The actress vocalizes all with aplomb, instantly changing her intonation and attitude to match a new persona.

Sandra goes back and forth between New York and Mexico. She's certain that a message in a bottle, reported in a newspaper, is Ethan's. Attracted to Luca and specifically to his body, Sandra is caught up in dilemmas: She does not like her life; she misses Ethan and knows others, like the FBI, are also trying to find him; her attention focuses upon Luca but is he the real thing? Conflicts plague Sandra who seems to be attracted to people who drink.

The play is not exactly a thriller but many will find it a suspenseful mystery. Felicia Curry's Sandra navigates both a physical and psychological journey. Cale's scripting, Matthew Dean Marsh's music, and Camilla Tassi's video merge forms. Jared Mezzocchi's direction lyrically pulls it all together quite imaginatively. Mezzocchi went to Puerto Vallarta to shoot some of the video which TheaterWorks utilizes. Set designer Marcelo Martínez García provides Sandra with a fairly small room which is enhanced through imagery. The production effectively infuses art with sensitive, appropriate technology.

David Cale is a playwright, actor, and solo performer. His dexterity with various genres assists with Sandra, a theatre piece which grows and glows through both the written word and visual/musical enrichment.

The TheaterWorks presentation, benefiting from all production elements and Cale's swiftly moving script, highlight's Felicia Curry's gifts. New England theatregoers might recall her starring turn as Nina Simone when Berkshire Theatre Group produced Nina Simone: Four Women, She now fully inhabits Sandra and distinctively paints the character as her own. This requires discipline, patience, complete mastery of dialogue (which includes that of many, many characters), and the ability to snap from one character to the next without hesitation. For much of the time, she's literally in a chair. Sandra does not spend the full hour and a half seated but it is not as if Curry ever gets an opportunity to wander or take a short break. The nature of an extended monologue dictates that the performer keep on keepin' on seemingly forever. The actress is commanding through her versatility and perseverance. She is graceful and gracious through it all, given that Sandra's path is not pleasant and not linear: it is fraught with anxiety.

Director Mezzocchi and Actor Curry have worked with one another before and that must be helpful. Unless one is in the rehearsal room, it is not possible to determine the balance a director and lead actor establish. That part remains a mystery to those of us simply in attendance. The artists collaborating on this show have created a smart winner.

Sandra runs through June 23, 2024, at TheaterWorks Hartford, 233 Pearl St., Hartford CT. For tickets and information, please call 860-527-7838 or visit