Actually – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Accusations can be devastating to both the accuser and the accused, no matter what the verdict of guilt or innocence on the claim. Just ask two college freshmen at Princeton who reach out for a relationship and discover that alcohol is an unwelcome third partner on their second date, a participant who invites them to an intimate encounter neither is prepared for psychologically or emotionally.

Until Sunday, June 23, Hartford TheaterWorks is requesting you become a voyeur in the sexual mating in Anna Zeigler’s provocative “Actually” being staged at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main Street, while renovations are taking place at their 233 Pearl Street location.

Blame it on youth, insecurity, a lack of self-esteem, impetuousness, a desire to be liked and to fit in, the party atmosphere on college campuses, the prevalence of alcohol and you can understand some of the conflicts Ronald Emile’s Tom Anthony and Arielle Siegel’s Amber Cohen face. They are both in the same psychology class and Amber, a middle class white Jewish girl, is intrigued by the strong African-American stance and mystery that Tom exhibits.

Their relationship begins at an ice cream parlor and quickly escalates to a wildly flirtatious contact fueled by excessive drinking. When they end up in bed together, the question of consent rears its contentious head and clouds the issues to a frightening degree.

Who was the initiator? One or both? Who changed their mind? Before, during or after? Who blamed the drinking for the impetuousness? Was Amber honest in calling this date rape? Was Tom accurate in viewing Amber as just another conquest in his string of female encounters? Where does the blame lie and was it truly at both their doorsteps? How easily will this interaction color their futures and transform their lives?

Taneisha Duggan directs an intense, emotional and ultimately traumatic drama that may be all too familiar on college campuses or in the military. You will be riveted by the dialogue and anxious to hold a conversation to express your feelings.

For tickets ($25-70), call TheaterWorks at 860-527-7838 or go online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.

Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Come make up your own mind as to what “actually” happened behind that closed bedroom door and whether consent was presumed or “actually” stated.

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