by Paula Citron
In the play “Lucy” about the relationship between an estranged mother and her 13-year-old autistic daughter, writer Damian Atkins sails close to the wind of maudlin sentiment before finding a provocative voice that shakes the audience awake.
Seana McKenna is Vivian, an anthropologist who long ago gave up custody of her daughter played by Meg Roe. The problem with the first act is the predictability. We see the mother’s struggles and ultimate bonding with her child.
In the dynamite second act, however, Atkins throws out a provocative, even subversive theory about autism. Anthropologist Vivian begins to believe that autism is an evolutionary advance which puts her on a collision course with conventional wisdom.
Atkins’s play is part melodrama, part documentary, part agent provocateur.
The author, however, redeems himself totally with the last fifteen minutes or so which are profoundly moving. Now, if only the whole play could have been as strong.
“Lucy” continues until Apr. 14.
From Berkeley Street Theatre I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.