Hartford Stage opened its 2019 season with the world premiere of Bess Wohl’s provocative and disturbing play, Make-Believe. Set in an attic playroom, the play is divided into two distinct parts and tries to cover a lifetime.
Make Believe begins with children playing on stage as the audience is being seated. Their toys allude to this being sometime in the 1980s. These siblings seem happy and well-adjusted until their play begins to mimic angry adult behavior they probably witnessed. No parents or adults are in the house. It turned out that their father left on an extended business trip and their mother was just absent. The second half of the play takes place in the same attic playroom roughly 25-30 years later. The siblings, now adults, returned home for a funeral. To say more would give too much away.
Even though Make Believe is only 90 minutes, it felt much longer. It got monotonous watching children play. You didn’t get a sense if these kids were close with one another or whether they even cared that their parents abandoned them. Problems were hinted at but these ideas were not well developed, so when they are reunited as adults it was hard to feel any empathy. Ms. Wohl worked hard to make you feel something, but all I felt was frustration and was left wondering what really happened in this make believe family. LAR
Hartford Stage – 50 Church St, Hartford, CT
Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Runs thru: Run has ended