Sight Unseen-WW

Artist's life crisis produces
compelling theater at Centenary


Wednesday, November 11, 2005
BY WILLIAM WESTHOVEN
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY RECORD

Donald Margulies was a graphic arts major at Pratt Institute before becoming the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Dinner With Friends.

So it makes one wonder if he wrote Sight Unseen, which dramatizes the life crisis of an artist of similar age, as an autobiographical piece. Then again, you may not care, because the characters onstage are so fascinating and three-dimensional, you'll be too absorbed to worry about people who aren't there.

The Centenary Stage Company's production at Centenary College in Hackettstown is tautly directed by Steven Dennis and enlivened by a superb cast. "Sight Unseen" presents Jonathan Waxman (Gary Littman), a controversial, but commercially successful New York City artist whose work is about to be exhibited in London.

While he's earned millions, he's lost his muse and is clearly at a crossroads, both personal and career-wise. But there's an element of serendipity to his trip -- a chance to visit his first muse, Patricia (Dina Ann Comolli), whom he dumped many years ago while they were still in school. An archeology student, she eventually expatriated herself to London, where she married a mentor to avoid being deported back to the U.S.

Their passion was kindled originally when she posed nude for his painting class, but they matched like plaids and stripes. Jonathan smoldered with the angst of a serious artist, while Patricia was a free-spirited, self-described dilettante with too many interests to settle on a single major.