Hundreds of paper cranes hanging on dozens of strings above Mona, one of five characters, grieving from loss, are the source of inspiration for Kari Bentley-Quinn’s tender and sensitive new play. And with Mona’s opening monologue, that inspiration takes root with her telling a story of a Japanese girl from Hiroshima in 1945, the leukemia she contracted from the bomb and the tradition of folding a thousand paper cranes in the hope of being granted a wish.
That forms a connection not only for Mona, whose loving husband has passed away from cancer, but with each character whose attempts to save themselves come through human connection, be it group therapy, sexual abandon or falling in love.
This is a study of good-natured folks, who give themselves a guiltless “get out jail free card” in exercising their demons and allowing their own extreme behavior, but here the darkness really goes no further than a riding crop. Such is Amy and David’s way of dealing with their grief. David’s love of his life has died tragically – he plays sex games to bring her back by using Amy, they found each other online – Amy’s likeness to the dead girlfriend is “uncanny”. Their tie me up, don’t tie me down relationship is one of mutual understanding, even as the sado-masochism heat turns up, and what could end in a violent turn, is guided to safety by two apologetic adults, numb but awakened. The performance of David is well tuned by Eric T. Miller, giving us a calm, brewing storm and warm muscularity. Amy, has been given the funniest lines of dialog, each is delivered with zesty candidness and terrific comic timing by Susan Louise O’Conner.
Meanwhile, Amy’s ex-girlfriend and now friend, Julie, (Amy had tried being a lesbian for a second) is aggressively pursued by Maddie, Mona’s 19 year old daughter. This may very well be Maddie’s first conquest, it’s certainly her big coming out, as the pain she feels from the loss of her father, whom she and Mona loved dearly, seems to give her license to not be afraid of her lesbianism. She catches Julie off-guard by confessing the deepest feelings for her, it’s really up to Julie, who seems to be the victim of an abusive father, (though this is where the playwright gives the least background detail), to respond in kind. The Julie/Maddie connection has less depth and dimensions than the other stories, but maybe that’s because Maddie’s determination to come out is self motivated, choosing Julie to receive her affection feels arbitrary. One get’s the sense it could have been anyone, but maybe this is how this 19 year old wants to heal. One thing is is certain, Maddie wants to “..come out with a bang”, as Mona discovers in a hilarious and most revealing scene of the play.
For all characters there is introspection, and for all there is enlightenment. While there is no great descent for either person on stage, there is something charming to the delicateness, the softness with which Miss Bentley-Quinn constructs the story, much as the care needed for the folding of cranes, her characters are touched with a gentle humanity.
Paper Cranes – a play by Kari Bentley Quinn, directed by Scott Ebersold
The cast features: Melissa Hammans, Sarah Lord, Eric T. Miller, Susan Louise O’Connor, Cynthia Silver
Produced by – Packawallop