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    Touch was Touching

    This weekend, Thomas Colen directed the Pocket Theater production of Toni Press-Coffman’s ‘Touch’ in Theater 3 of the Staller Center. It is about a man’s emotional struggle to accept his wife’s untimely and horrific death, with and without friends and family.

    It was love at first sight when Zoe walked into Kyle’s Physics class senior year of high school. He said she was unlike any other girl. All he did was stare at her, too nervous to speak. Ever since she came up to introduce herself they were in love, and married the Christmas after high school graduation. Andy Lucien, who played Kyle, had such a look in his eyes and gentleness in his voice as he described Kyle and Zoe’s life together, how it compared to Kyle’s love for astronomy and how it complemented his love for Keats’ poetry.

    From the Thanksgiving night Zoe went missing, every day was filled with guilt, stress, anger and numbness. Kyle’s friend Benny, played by Christopher Tricarico, was always right by his side, trying to give emotional support. But Kyle was too distraught. Benny was physically and/or verbally injected into the scenes. Due to the script, Benny had to give momentary lines in a range of emotions as Kyle narrated his appearances. To switch from angry to supportive and back again left little time for the audience to believe in the emotions. However, after Benny took center stage with his own soliloquy, the pressure for mood swings was released and he became realistic.

    After Zoe disappeared, Andy Lucien’s voice and body movement changed to reflect the character’s murderous passion until he had his scenes with Kaitlin Burke, who played Kathleen, a prostitute that slowly falls for Kyle. She lovingly calls him John Sky to set him apart from her other guys. Her well-timed humor set off the whole audience with laughter. Her wit was well-matched against Kyle’s starry eyes. Because Kyle had been seeing Kathleen so often, he neglected Benny and Zoe’s sister, Serena, played by Jessica DiCarlo. Her role provides a female perspective to Zoe’s life. However, their sisterly bond wasn’t explored enough because the whole story is from Kyle’s perspective.

    The four of them had been in each other’s social and familial circles for so long, but it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that Benny and Serena realized how much they liked each other, and consequently hooked up. What must have been some weeks later, Kyle leaves Kathleen and finds Serena and Benny together. In the ensuing hysteria, Kyle reveals that the two men who took Zoe were arrested – the case finally got resolved – and Benny makes it clear he loves Serena. The scene ended with a group hug and cry.

    The last scene was of Kyle and Benny camping. Benny says he’s going to ask Serena to marry him and Kyle finally sees ‘the green flash’ as the sun sets. Anything is now possible, he declares.

    ‘Touch’ was a moving story that required its actors to be emotional. For the most part the cast succeeded. Since it was opening night there was bound to be a few mistakes, but they seemed to be mere misspoken words that were quickly corrected by the actors. There was a minimal set design, probably due to lack of funding. The themes that kept coming back were the ‘gaze of love,’ Keats’ poetry, and astronomy. All in all, the production deserves a round of applause.

    For some background information, Touch was first produced in 1999 at the Damesrocket Theatre of Tucson. It has been performed in many other college theaters and cities, most notably its 2003 production in NYC as part of the Women’s Project Theater. In NYC, Tom Everett Scott played the role of Kyle.

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