Another day, another play and after this one I’ll be all caught up on the theater. This last Friday, we attended the world opening of a locally produced play, “Molly’s Hammer”, a play by Tammy Ryan, but this is not the first time that we’ve “seen” the play. Last year at this time, we attended a reading of the play as part of the Rep’s Ignite festival. I wrote about that experience and you can read it again here. This is the second play that we’ve seen from that festival to make it into production this year; the other play was “Georama”. Here are that production’s reading and performance blog posts.
Nancy Bell reprises her role as Molly Rush, anti-war protester and Pittsburgh housewife and mother. Last year’s reading was in the Opera Theater rehearsal hall and took place in the afternoon, where it was all airiness and light. The premiere occurred in the Studio Theater, which is a subterranean venue deep within the bowels of the Loretto-Hilton, where it was dark and claustrophobic. We sat in the front row, on the aisle and had to mind the placement of our legs, less we become part of the production, by tripping one of the actors in the dark.
Unlike “Georama”, “Molly’s Hammer” seemed little changed from last year. I think that speaks of the material’s strength, just like only drawing one card instead of three tells of a better poker hand. Having the same actress in the principal role also added to a sense of continuity. Reviewing what I wrote last year, I’d have to say that the biggest difference is in what was left out. The reading had an awful lot of trial strategizing that was shortened for the performance. The dialog seemed crisper too. Maybe it was because this was my second exposure to the material or maybe it was because the play’s politics are now a bit dated, but I was more interested in the story’s family dynamics than in any political message.