Touching Lightly on Love and Death
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Three Short Plays
by Kathleen Thompson
Touching Lightly on Love and Death is a collection of three short plays, two of them comedies, about the most serious issues facing us as human beings. In "I Shall Love You Forever, a young couple considers a peculiarly long-term commitment. "Kindness" looks at four women who confront grief with shopping and pie. "Private Investigations" is a tense showdown between a recently widowed woman and the private investigator she hires to look into her husband's death.
Kathleen Thompson's “Kindness” is a bittersweet slice-of-life look at four women in a small Oklahoma town, glimpsed through an ordinary conversation they have at the town`s lone, unglamorous cafe. They have just come from an estate sale for another town resident, and much of the piece is smalltown Southern dish and grotesque humor. (The deceased fell victim to a binge of cole slaw overeating.) But, slyly, Thompson shifts to a sad, artful look at their lonely cameraderie, delivered with delicate balance from the four actresses--Ellie Weingardt, Patti Hannon, Suzy Kuhn and Sandy Spatz--and Ellyn Duncan`s keen direction.--Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune
A new script by the Commons Theatre's playwright-in-residence, Kathleen Thompson, “Private Investigations,” is astutely written. The dialogue's crisp, the characters are well observed, and the structure—a sort of braid with two story-strands passing around and across each other—is canny and useful. . . . As “Private Investigations” stands right now it is the most sophisticated, best realized work I've seen Thompson do. A real mensch of a play. It carries a palpable aura of intelligence, compassion, and playfulness, without the least whiff of indulgence. This is a piece of work I would've liked even if it hadn't gotten to me. . . .
Actually, Thompson worked a kind of double whammy on me with this play. Not only did its theme of loss get to me, but also its portrayal of detectives. You see it just so happens my dad was a private investigator until his death. I've seen fictional gumshoes from Raymond Chandler's existential Philip Marlowe to Moonlighting's Motown David Addison, but never one that conformed to my actual experience as Diana Hughes does.” –Anthony Adler, Chicago Reader
Excerpt from Kindness
PEGGY: What'd Mary die of, do you know?
GAIL: Don't you?
PEGGY: How would I know? I wasn't here.
LIDDY: It was the strangest thing.