Write Act Repertory’s world premiere of Willard Manus’ family drama, “Just a Song at Twilight,” features excellent acting in a heartfelt production depicting one family’s travails dealing with hearing impairment in 1930s-1940s New Jersey.
Based on his own family’s true story, the show documents sisters Henriette (Lene Pedersen) and Marion’s (Janne H. Kindberg) hearing loss in their early 20s, and how it threatens family dynamics and relationships. Will they learn lip reading or sign language, and will they try surgery?
While a little unwieldy and long, Manus’ script focuses on compelling emotional conflict and rich, complex characters. Director John DiFusco keeps the action moving and dynamic with moments of dancing and passion, without allowing the production to become too sentimental or nostalgic.
Pedersen stands out as the vulnerable yet courageous Henriette, somewhat isolated but still exploring life and gratefully assisting others. Ilia Volok reveals deep passion as Henriette’s long suffering, angry husband Isadore “Izzy” Levin, bitter over life-long tragedies. Kindberg’s Marion occasionally offers glimpses of compassion under her arrogant, vain exterior. Darin Dahms brings sympathetic patience and caring to the lip reading teacher Ira Casey.
Production values are top notch, with fine production design by John Lant, evocative lighting by Mark Baker and excellent sound work that brings alive the period and hearing loss.
A thoughtful, compassionate look at hearing impairment and changing family dynamics, “Just a Song at Twilight” reveals one woman’s growth and gratitude dealing with her condition.
“Just a Song at Twilight” plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm through February 27 at Write Act Repertory Theatre (6128 Yucca Ave. in Hollywood). Tickets are $25, and $20 for students, seniors and groups. For reservations, call (323) 469-3113. Ample free parking one block South at 6125 Carlos St.