October 19, 2012

Falling

 


As a Pediatric Physical Therapist, I work with children with autism and their families.  So having heard about this play about autism entitled Falling, I wanted to make it a point to see it when I was in NYC. 
 
I saw the play last Saturday afternoon (Oct. 12) and I was treated to a very insightful and touching look at the challenges of these families.  Falling currently plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in NYC and was written by Deanna Jent, who has an 18 year old son with autism.  It centers on Josh, an 18 year old young man who is severely autistic and his relationship with his family.  Like any individual with this diagnosis, Josh has times when he has a meltdown even with the most mundane tasks.  In the play, his family has figured out some strategies to re-direct Josh when these meltdowns occur.  The problem is, his triggers could be at any moment and has become more violent now that he is bigger and stronger than his parents.  Family dynamics are further thrown off-kilter when Grandma comes to visit and is unaware about the realities of this family. 
 
Daniel Everidge plays Josh in this piece.  He has captured the "stimming" qualities of an autistic individual to a very nuanced perfection.  It's incredible because he reminded me of some of the kids that I see.  Julia Murney plays Tami, Josh's mom who tries to do everything she can to keep Josh's life balanced to the point that it has strained her marriage and her relationship to her other child, her daughter.  In this piece, Julia is stripped off her singing prowess but instead gets to show what a good actress she is.  Her portrayal was honest, touching and gut wrenching as a mother who longs for tranquility in her home and at the same time love and protection for her child that is difficult to love.  Rounding out the talented cast is Daniel Pierce (Bill, the father), Jacey Powers (Lisa, the sister) and Celia Howard (Grammy Sue). 
 
A 75 minute play, it is fast paced and draws you into their world with a sobering jolt.  I was very impressed with the writing for it tackles topics that are seldom discussed like the sister's fear towards her brother, the parent's guilt as to whether to have their child live in a home and the reality of "outsiders" judging how they deal with their child.  These are real challenges that I have witnessed in the families I work with. I am glad it's put forth out there.  The play also delved in the demise of a parent's dream for their child and I was surprised that I was so affected by this particular aspect of the play.  I guess I never saw it from this point of view and that was very powerful for me.
 
Falling currently has an open ended run so if you're in NYC, try to catch it.  It's not just a good play but a very relevant one too.
 
 Some photos I took that afternoon:
 
 
After the show, the cast and creatives have a talkback
which was very engaging
so try to stay for that one when you go



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