Untying Love: An End-of-Life Play

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Death can be an uncomfortable subject. It’s scary, awkward, and painful—even more so if you know someone who is dying or has a loved one who is near death. This was the case for me going to see the end-of-life play Untying Love last week. The play, written by Peggy Willins and directed by Emma Berry, explores the process of letting go of a loved one in hospice—an experience I’ve been going through with my own mother, who is at the end of a long illness. For this reason, I suspected the play would have special resonance for me, and it did. But it also is a story that applies to all of us.

TADA! Theater is located on W. 28th, just past Broadway, and is an easy walk from Penn Station. It’s a very small theater—there were probably 30 people in the audience, which worked very well for this play because the intimacy pulled us into what was a very raw, emotional, and real look at the end of a life. The play is set in the kitchen of the hospice home where an elderly mother is dying while her family waits by her side. Two hospice volunteers make up the rest of the cast, who help the family work through their grief and interpersonal conflicts brought to the surface by the stress of the situation. This beautifully-written drama begins with an explosion of emotion from the main character, Steven, played by Jed Dickson. He is the eldest of the siblings saying good-bye to their mother, and is the anchor character around which the rest of the cast orbits. His struggle with feelings of guilt, not being good enough, and not being able to control the situation is so universal and is played out so naturally that you can’t help but completely identify. And while the characters fit into “types” on the surface, they are actually very nuanced, and the dynamics of their interactions with one another bring a great deal of depth to the story.

Jed Dickson and Kyla Schoer in UNTYING LOVE

The play is intensely emotional, but not because it is about death. It is emotional because we are all feeling human beings and the feelings of the characters are so relatable and so skillfully wrought that the actual story is secondary to the experience of this play. This is not to say that it is a sob-fest—it includes a great deal of humor, as well, which not only provides an emotional break, but also is what makes the experience so real. Life is complex and messy and funny and wrenching, and this play succeeds at portraying all of those things through the interactions of the family and hospice workers. It is brilliantly acted and directed, with a highly satisfying end that will leave you thinking and feeling long after.

John Mateyko, Nancy Nagrant, Kyla Schoer, Jed Dickson, and Simon MacLean in UNTYING LOVE


$18, $15 for Students and Seniors 
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34111 or call 866-811-4111

October 13 – November 4, 2012 
Thursday-Saturday at 8pm / Sunday at 3pm

TADA! Theater
 15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001



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Laurie Junkins

Laurie is a writer living in New Jersey with her husband, three children, and way too many pets. She's enthusiastic about fitness, naps, inappropriate asides, wine, and laughing out loud in public. You can follow her on Twitter @LaurieJunkins

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