Talley’s Folly

By Lanford Wilson. This has always been a treat but has usually been undervalued. In its current revival at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, Danny Burstyn and Sarah Paulson give sensational performances as the Jewish accountant Matt Friedman and the Missouri wallflower Sally Talley. Their courtship, in a collapsing boathouse on the river on a spring evening in 1944, is so romantically set that the play is often taken as a simple romantic comedy, but it’s far more than that, exploring the arrival, just as World War II winds down, of a strange and foreign presence in a hidebound Protestant stronghold. It’s really about the end of an era and the beginning of another, in which the American melting pot actually began to melt — even in Missouri. Wilson’s language is so unaffectedly haunting and the characters so well-drawn that the evening plays out like a dream of another world, and a most beautiful dream it is — painful in some ways, but hopeful above all. It’s more than worth a visit.  –jack viertel

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