Lisa Gauthier

The Woolgatherer

Alley Theatre

Directed by Jim Dougherty

Through April 1

The Woolgatherer is a strange play. It seems to begin a third of the way into a story. Rose, a dowdy young woman, has invited Cliff, a transient truck driver, into her apartment. They don't seem to know each other, or even like each other that much. Rose has never cursed in her life. Cliff makes a joke out of everything. They seem to have nothing in common. So why is he there, and why did she invite him in the first place? Each keeps saying leave, but then their conversation picks back up.

Discovering why these characters are together is slowly revealed. We see that they are both lonely, and they both have strange idiosyncrasies. She takes vegetables out of dumpsters and collects sweaters; he speaks in long, unpunctuated sentences that sound like urban poetry. He was looking for a one-night stand; she is looking for fodder for daydreams.

Odd as the play seems at first, after seeing it I found my mind wandering back to it, picking nuggets out days after I left. If it was a movie, I would have watched it again, to take in everything I missed the first time around.

Allison Clark Leopold's Rose is simple in her outlook of the world - easily disturbed, and ignorant of what weed is. She is damaged, but has created unique coping mechanisms. She is in sharp contrast to Sean Michael Johnson's Cliff, who is world-weary. He's been living immersed in the world for so long, he doesn't know how to react to Rose's child-like nature. Both actors play off each other well, with deliveries that pound their words down, like they have been pounded by the world.

Director Jim Dougherty keeps the action tense, which adds weight to the two characters. This is a challenging piece, but it sticks to the craw.

The Woolgatherer continues at the Alley Theatre through April 1. Tickets are $15. Call the Alley, 1716 N. Illinois St., at 317-926-8888.