CREEDE — “Then, madam, we will not take your denial. Have I not heard it said, that faint heart never won fair lady?”1754 Richardson Grandison I.
Talley’s Folly, playing this season at the Creede Repertory Theatre, based in the 1940s, seeks to answer this centuries-old question. Is the answer revealed at the Ruth Marie in Creede?
Author Lanford Wilson received the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play, set on July 4, 1944, which takes place in one act, with no intermission, set in 97 minutes of real time, with no set change. It all happens in a dilapidated boathouse on the Talley farm in Missouri and the two-person cast ably holds the audience’s interest.
It’s one night in the lives of two unlikely sweethearts, Matt Friedman, played by Rick D. Wasserman and Kate Berry as Sally Talley.
Something happened the summer before that drew Matt to the boathouse for some memorable time with Sally Talley and it carved itself into his heart. Just what took place isn’t revealed, but Matt was smitten. He wrote a letter to Sally every day for the next year, despite the fact that her only reply was to tell him to stop writing.
She’s furious that he had shown up in Lebanon without letting her know. Matt says he wrote a letter telling her he was coming.
Matt stomps around the aged pier and uses old fishing equipment to tell his story. A couple of pratfalls holds Sally’s interest as Matt rants about his love for the “old maid.”
Ranting? About love? The audience takes an emotional roller-coaster ride with Matt at the helm, waiting to see what’s around the next plot turn.
Eventually, the couple begins to reminisce about the night they met and the time they spent together before he returned to the big city and his work as an accountant and Sally returned to life as a conservative Methodist nurse.
Upon his return, Matt waited at the hospital, despite her co-workers’ protests that she wasn’t there. He went to the Talley home, only to be chased away by her shotgun-wielding brother.
He heads alone to the boathouse and Sally soon follows, steaming after a disagreement with family members.
Matt takes it as a positive sign that Sally has changed into a nice dress before going to the boathouse, though she swears she wore the dress to work. She pushes him away and he presses his pursuit. Matt has come to Lebanon to propose to Sally, period. A 42-year-old Jew, he seems a bad match for the reserved nurse, 11 years his junior and part of a family of wealthy Gentiles.
Matt uses humor to express his feelings and Sally tries to ignore him. He hurts his head in one of his falls and she treats the wound with some gin she has hidden. The boathouse has been a place to escape the family home.
Sally had been fired from a Sunday school teaching job and Matt reminds her of that fact. Stung by the reminder of her failure and aware Matt has been talking with her aunt, Sally presses Matt about his background, a subject about which he is very guarded. Most of his family are deceased. Eventually, Matt admits escaping to America with the help of some relatives. That childhood pain made him swear he would never father children.
Matt presses Sally to share why she, a beautiful woman at 31, has never married. She diverts the conversation to economics, which makes no sense in the context and his reaction is worth buying a ticket to the play. Sally finally reveals a disappointment in love many years ago and a youthful illness that rendered her barren.
Then Matt reaches into his pocket…
Talley’s Folly is slated for evening performances July 23 and 26, as well as August 22 and 30 and Sept. 1, 2, 7, 13 and 15. Matinees are August 2, 12, 20, 23, 27 an 30, as well as Sept. 6, 9 and 10. Closing night is Sept. 15. For tickets, call 719-658-2540 or creederep.org.