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2019 FESTIVAL OF INDEPENDENT THEATRES

Barrett Nash in <em>small hours</em>&nbsp;from Leos Ensemble

FIT Review: small hours

Leos Ensemble’s intense, wrenching small hours makes real the dark, exhausting side of caring for a newborn at Festival of Independent Theatres.



published Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Photo: Courtesy Leos Ensemble
Barrett Nash in small hours from Leos Ensemble

 

 

Dallas — The 18th-century visionary English poet William Blake saw God at the window when he was two. He also recalls his own wailing birth in “Infant Sorrow” from Songs of Experience:

 

My mother groaned! My father wept.

Into the dangerous world I leapt,

Helpless, naked, piping loud;

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

 

Struggling in my father’s hands,

Striving against my swaddling bands;

Bound and weary, I thought best

To sulk upon my mother’s breast.

 

Blake’s famous depiction of a newborn’s fierce ego pushing for survival is hardly a cherubic baby rocked in loving arms. But what of that mother with an infant fiend yelling for food? Go see small hours, a one-hour play by Lucy Kirkwood and Ed Hime, directed by Nick Leos in a Leos Ensemble production at Festival of Independent Theatres. Talk about the misery unto madness of post-partum depression. This disturbing work, where stage time is real time, delivers a slice of motherhood that doesn’t get a lot of play in Hallmark Cards’ new baby section.

We meet the hollow-eyed young mother, played by exquisite Barrett Nash with red locks and a carefully paced intensity, alone in her shabby little apartment, dressed in wrinkled pants and shirt, watching the weather channel on BBC TV. She chugs a bottle of cola and shoves wadded up blankets and clothes to the floor. There’s a storm approaching the Scottish shore and she’s trying to call her mom. She flops down on the flimsy sofa and tries to reach the Social Network, presumably because she’s feeling like shit, but the voice recognition app is failing. At last, she gets a call from her husband, working in far-away Manchester, and she whispers something to him. He’s not coming home.

Even before we hear the baby in a room offstage begin to cry, we feel the girl’s stark claustrophobia. She’s stuck. She digs out a makeup bag and spends a full 10 minutes of stage time staring into a compact, applying a brightening concealer to the dark circles under her eyes, followed by blusher and other stuff. She sprays a powerfully sweet air freshener in the theater space to cover baby odor, and the particles and smell drift toward us in the light. She turns up the CD player, cranks up a vacuum cleaner and copes the only ways she knows how with the increasingly insistent “piping loud” cries of that creature in another room. What are her options?

Kirkwood, the bold 36-year-old British playwright noted for her steely realism in confronting modern issues of social and environmental catastrophe in her work, devised this play in 2011 with the director Hime, to create a slice-of-life hour of theater from the girl’s viewpoint. It’s more stage direction than dialogue, à la Samuel Beckett in his short. Unlike the “absurd” symbolic acts of Beckett, Kirkwood’s characters often embody human reactions to disasters once thought distant possibilities. Next season, Stage West brings Kirkwood’s The Children, which earned a 2018 Best Play Tony nomination for the Manhattan Theater Club production in 2018.

You can’t take your eyes off Nash in small hours, as she doubles down against the demanding cries of her newborn child. This young woman’s relentless descent gives us all a new appreciation for an essential animal aspect of our struggling humanity, and a fresh understanding of the trials of young women dealing with screaming babies everywhere from Scotland to mobile homes in Happy Park, Texas.   

 

» small hours is performed in the following performance blocks:

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, July 18
  • 8 p.m. Friday, July 26
  • 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27
  • 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3

» The 21st annual Festival of Independent Theatres runs through Aug. 3, 2019 at The Bath House Cultural Center. For more information, visit www.festivalofindependenttheatres.org or call 1-800-617-6904.

To see a breakdown of the groups and shows, go here.

To see reviews and more coverage of FIT, see our special section here.

 

2019 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

*denotes first appearance in the festival

 

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019 (8 PM)

Leos Ensemble – small hours

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

 

FRIDAY JULY 19, 2019 (8 PM)

*Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

*WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

 

FRIDAY JULY 19, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

*Jodi Crawford Wright in Songs My Mama Taught Me

 

SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2019 (2 PM)

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

The Very Good Dance Theatre – The 1st Annual Gay Show

 

SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2019 (5 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

 

SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2019 (8 PM)

*Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

*Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

 

SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Kathryn Taylor Rose in Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

 

SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2019 (2 PM)

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

 

SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2019 (5 PM)

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

 

THURSDAY, JULY 25, 2019 (8 PM)

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

 

FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019 (8 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Leos Ensemble – small hours

 

FRIDAY JULY 26, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Jodi Crawford Wright in Songs My Mama Taught Me

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (2 PM)

Leos Ensemble – small hours

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (5 PM)

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (8 PM)

The Very Good Dance Theatre – The 1st Annual Gay Show

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Kathryn Taylor Rose in Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

 

SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2019 (2 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2019 (5 PM)

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2019 (8 PM)

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

The Very Good Dance Theatre – The 1st Annual Gay Show

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019 (8 PM)

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Jodi Crawford Wright in Songs My Mama Taught Me

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (2 PM)

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (5 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Leos Ensemble – small hours

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (8 PM)

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

 Thanks For Reading




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FIT Review: small hours
Leos Ensemble’s intense, wrenching small hours makes real the dark, exhausting side of caring for a newborn at Festival of Independent Theatres.
by Martha Heimberg

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