Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 17, 2016

And No More Shall We Part

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through August 21, 2016
by Shera Cohen

It has been my experience, for the most part, that television and movie actors, while having name recognition and audience draw, do not necessarily shine on the theatre stage. This, thankfully, is not the case with “And No More Shall We Part.” The two-character play, packed into 70 minutes, in the smaller theatre at Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) could very easily and very quickly have slipped into cliché without the production’s consummate actors.

Photograph by Daniel Rader
A contemporary work by Tom Holloway, the subject is universal, and at the same time intimately focused. Pam is dying and sees no alternative than a medically-induced suicide. Her husband, Don, cannot cope with his wife’s decision. The story of a much-married, average couple unfolds, alternating the present with the recent past.

Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina were, perhaps, married to each other in a former life. I can’t imagine finer casting choices even in physical appearance. The characters interrupt and finish each other’s sentences, are in synch in their movement in the setting of their home, remember and forget shared family experiences. Kaczmarek's Pam has had cancer for some time. There is no cure. The actress plays a strong woman, practical in her decisions, and supportive of her husband. Molina’s Don has lived with his wife’s cancer, yet lacks her strength and foresight. But this is not a stoic wife and pathetic husband duo, or as audience members might expect, the exact opposite. While there is a touch of “woe is me” sentimentality, the mood comes in spurts, and never at an increasing crescendo.

Kaczmarek and Molina define Pam and Don with trust and selfishness. Bravado keeps this woman alive for a short time, and the lack of acceptance keeps the man on track. Yet, the two actors are permitted, under the direction of Anne Kauffman to at times, crumble.

While the audience is positioned for the ending, all is not what seems to be, leaving those of us who care about Pam and Don, feeling somewhat disappointed.

No additional actors are necessary, although the couple’s two children are often mentioned. We don’t know where Pam and Don work or where they live, only that their very modest house – nicely separated by changing walls – instantly creates a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and hallway, unadorned with “stuff.” The dialog and silences tell and show the picture.

“Sorry.” That’s the work used repeatedly by the characters to each other. Such a small word, always spoken softly, provides the umbrella of the story and its inhabitants.