SIT IN  “THE MERCY SEAT” IN STAMFORD
            BONNIE GOLDBERG

    When a horrendous tragedy occurs and your life is spared miraculously, your initial reaction might be to express gratitude to God.  Once the shock wears off, your next decision could be to offer aid and comfort to those who endured the calamity.  A normal response should not be to calculate how this unspeakable event could profit you as an unexpected but welcome opportunity.
    The Stamford Theatre Works will be debating the ethics of Neil LaBute’s “The Mercy Seat” until Sunday, October 5.  It’s the day after the Twin Towers have been bombed. Ben Harcourt was supposed to be there on business but he was too busy having an illicit sexual relationship with his boss Abby Prescott in her apartment to be where everyone thought he was.  Obviously, had he been honestly at work it might have cost him his life.
    Ben and Abby have been “fraternizing” for three years and just before the planes hit, he had been about to make a phone call that would have impacted their lives dramatically.
    Now as Eliza Foss’s Abby hurls verbal darts at Matthew Fraley’s Ben as if he were a human dart board, we learn that their romantic journey is anything but smooth.  First there is their age difference;  she’s a dozen years his senior,  Second, there is their job status; they were both up for the same promotion and she won it.  Third, he is married with two young daughters.  Suddenly fate has dropped a monumental option into their laps.  Should Ben simply disappear, play dead to the world that knows and loves him, and run off and start a new life with Abby?  Steve Karp directs this controversial conversation of conflict on a great loft set designed by Kenneth A. Larson.
    For tickets ($22-38), call STW, 200 Strawberry  Hill Avenue, Stamford at 203-359-4414 or online at
www.stamfordtheatreworks.org. ; Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
    Follow Abby and Ben as they face a crossroads in their relationship while an incessantly ringing cell phone keeps punctuating their precarious positions.

This review appeared in the Middletown Press on September 25.


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