By the time your face appears on the side of a milk carton, you have officially been declared a missing person, whereabouts unknown.  Yet you can be invisible in a room of strangers at a social gathering, in a department store, in a thousand moments of your everyday life.  How sad to be anonymous.

For a slice of life of one such person, actually a slice of whole wheat bread with turkey, sprouts, lettuce and tomatoes, attend the world premiere of Athol Fugard’s “Have You Seen Us?” at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, December 20.

Sam Waterston is wonderfully engaging as the gruff and questioning Henry Parsons, a lost soul who finds little pleasure in life, certainly not as a professor of a dead language, or as a man separated from his family by half a world.  A South African by birth, transplanted to America, he has allowed alcohol to strip his intimate universe of meaning.

Now residing in California, the highlight of Parsons’ routine is a daily visit to a coffee shop where he trades barbs and insults with Adela, beautifully portrayed by Liza Colon-Zayas, a Mexican- American waitress, who serves him a turkey sandwich with a generous side of taunts, instead of pickles or chips.

A chance encounter with an elderly Jewish couple (Sol Frieder and Elaine Kussick) sets off a chain of events, much like a tumbling row of dominoes, that force Parsons down a path of prejudice to ultimate understanding.  Gordon Edelstein directs this voyage of self-discovery with a gentle hand.

For tickets ($30-70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Long Wharf Theatre is partnering with IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services to collect clothing and blankets for refugees settling in Connecticut  this holiday season.

Donations can be dropped off at Long Wharf Theatre, Monday through Friday 10-5, Saturday-Sunday 12-5 or the evening of any performance, Tuesday through Sunday, through January 3, 2010.

“The play currently playing on our stage, “Have You Seen Us?”, is at its core a story of displaced and souls seeking solace and comfort, and sometimes finding it through the good graces of strangers. Long Wharf Theatre supports IRIS and their outstanding work bringing solace and comfort to those who need it most,” said Ray Cullom, Long Wharf Theatre’s managing director.

IRIS is seeking gently used clothing, blankets and quilts for donation to the many refugees – children, women, and men – who have been invited by our government to start new lives in the United States.  Some of the most needed items include gloves, hats, scarves, warm socks, long underwear, winter boots, work shoes, and clothing that could be used to go on a job interview.

Settle in at a small café for a little humor, a lot of heart, some pathos and some prejudice, as Henry Parsons orders up a blue plate special that will change his humanity forever.

This will appear in the Middletown Press on December 10.

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