Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

And No More Shall We Part
Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts
Review by Fred Sokol | Season Schedule

Also see Fred's review of Constellations and Bye Bye Birdie


Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina
Photo by T. Charles Erickson
And No More Shall We Part, performed for the first time in this country on the Nikos Stage at Williamstown Theatre Festival, is a fully emotional look at longterm marriage as one individual (with a diagnosis without hope) chooses to end her life. The balance between the seemingly unthinkable and the everyday is achieved in extraordinary fashion by actors Jane Kaczmarek as Pam and Alfred Molina as Don. Tom Holloway, an Australian playwright, furnishes a well-articulated script, moving from past to present and back again, which is full throttle reality. Some sequences, and this understates, are visceral stunners. Anne Kauffman, directing, concentrates upon nuance and detail; she provides interpretation and guidance. With a running time of 65 minutes, the despairingly telling And No More Shall We Part is as honest as it is upsetting.

Hollway's play is an orchestration. It begins with Pam, in bed, explanatory, in a seeming pleasant mood: she is terminally ill and this will be her final evening. Don, seated on a chair next to her, asks her if she is yet feeling anything (since, by implication, she has already taken pills) but she does not. Instead, she says, "Do you remember when we went to the beach?"

The play, a short time later, returns to a moment when Pam, arriving home after a visit with her physician, explains that treatment will be stopped. Don refuses to acknowledge and irrationally rails against everything: the medical profession, the situationÂ….Pam does not wish to suffer incrementally. She has made her decision. She refers to her husband, from time to time, as "my prince." He tells her how much he loves her.

Rachel Hauck's scenic design takes us inside the couple's home. We see a bed, a dining table and chairs. The front door is situated deep into the stage. At times, walls move about to accommodate circumstances.

Pam and Don talk of Billy and Mel, their children — how and when to inform them of their mother's imminent death. Not surprisingly, approaches differ. Pam, much of the time, remains calm and thoughtful. It is Don who is bereft, sometimes thinking of himself, his own plight. He, in denial, is thoroughly dedicated to his wife, and expectant that, in some way, the prognosis can be reversed.

Each character, however, becomes unglued—in very different ways. It is not until 35 minutes in that overwhelming emotion, for a theatergoer, prevails. Consider William Wordsworth's prose: "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." When Don loses control, he reacts with anger and despair. Pam, for all of her control, collapses with grief. This is ultimate sorrow.

Molina has faced a somewhat parallel situation in his own life. His wife of 30 years is seriously ill with Alzheimer's and he copes. His performance, as Don, is always authentic and credible. When Kaczmarek smiles, it is with al lovely, genuine warmth. She thinks beyond herself. When she breaks down, the observant theater audience does so with her. The talented actors have worked together three times during recent years. They've developed a sense of one another which allows for intuitive response. Nothing is fabricated; all is real.

Kauffman, directing, is specific. After Pam takes her pills and Don is not in sight, Pam lights the small paper envelope which held the tablets, and places it within a casserole dish and cover. Perfect, expressive, and speaking volumes.

Holloway concludes with a final scene which is unexpected, given what has previously occurred. Frankly, I am not certain whether any ending could have satisfied.

Some might claim that much has been written and filmed to tell stories similar to the one delineated in And No More Shall We Part. Perhaps this is so. Live theater, especially this draining but acutely absorbing performance, cannot be duplicated. Unsentimental and always penetrating, the production does not allow for escape—for the performers or those watching.

And No More Shall We Part continues on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts through August 21st. For tickets, call (413) 597-3400 or visit wtfetstival.org.


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