Not unlike an ice floe, the chill in Bryony Lavery's 2004 play creeps up on you, before working its way into your bones. In the first half-hour, we learn of a girl's abduction somewhere in the north of England through a series of interweaving monologues told by the child's mother (Jenette Goldstein) and the pedophile (Hugh Mason) who led the girl to his van, and much of the play's first half is about the mother's activism on behalf of missing children — a thin veneer for her stoic, fraying hope. This all arrives in a blanket of domestic minutiae — the mother's wavering relations with her other daughter and her husband, for instance, which almost undoes the play's small tug of mystery. Add to the mix a visiting American scholar, a clinical psychiatrist (Deanne Dawson) out to prove that serial killers' absence of compassion is directly related to a malady in a frontal brain lobe rather than inherent evil. With this, the play turns into a probing examination not only of criminal pathology, but of how we come to be humane. Lavery's twists and turns, when the mother finally meets her daughter's killer, come marbled with deeply human contradictions stemming from primal emotions, which director Billy Hayes' stark but relentlessly detailed staging (with Leif Gantvoort's delicate lighting, Sal Valdez's understated sound design and Scott Siedman's Spartan set) eventually brings to the fore with awesome beauty.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 15. Continues through March 22, 2008
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