Few writers embraced as many contradictions as 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson. Though a lifelong spinster and recluse from the age of 30, she was a doubter with a longing to believe, a reverent iconoclast, a fiercely romantic virgin and a timid soul who wrote daring verse. (Oonly seven of her poems were published in her lifetime.) Playwright William Luce captures more of her in this monodrama than one might reasonably expect, weaving her poems into the dialog so gracefully that one hardly realizes what he’s up to until a rhyme or a familiar phrase rings out. Modern scholars have suggested that this shrinking violet may have concealed a lurking serpent: Luce has her say, “My love frightens people.” And her mentor, the Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, admitted to being afraid of her, and thanked his stars that she lived no closer. Under the deft direction of Tony Sears, actor Kate Randolph Burns gives us a rich, multilayered Dickinson, capturing her thorny charm and wicked humor, as well as the pain and fear of a woman who could write, “Will there really be a morning?” and died uncertain if her “letter to the world” would ever be received.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Sept. 5. Continues through Oct. 26, 2008
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