The best tragedies remove walls for just long enough to reveal the raw, trembling humanity that lives behind them. Johanna Adams's Sans Merci takes on this task with intelligence and sensitivity. The play opens with bold, stereotypical strokes that portray the meeting between a Republican, homophobic mother (Beverly Roche), and her late daughter's lesbian, activist lover (Ali Curtis), punctuated by flashbacks to their mutual lost love, Tracey (Alycia Riley).
As the characters wrestle with their anger, pain, and guilt, the play carries a hushed, spellbound audience to a place where shared grief and love momentarily lifts any sense of separation. Director Jenni White elicits compelling performances from the cast, with a script that beautifully blends (Keatsian) poetry with pain.
Occasionally Curtis's character seemed in danger of flatlining, her performance compromised by background noise that threatened to drown out her delivery at critical moments. But her portrayal was otherwise sensitive and nuanced. While Theatre Non Nobis's presentation of Sans Merci doesn't pretend to offer answers to a world sans merci (without mercy), the warmth and hope of its humanity mitigates its tragedy. Through June 2 at Theatre Non Nobis