The Wilma Theater's post holiday season offering is guaranteed to shake off the winter blues. "Body Awareness" by Obie award winning playwright, Annie Baker is a very funny four person play that takes place during Body Awareness Week at Shirley State College in Vermont. College professor Phyllis lives with her girlfriend Joyce, a high school teacher with a grown son Jared who has Assberger's. When visiting artist, Frank brings his exhibit of photographs of naked women into the mix hilarity ensues.
Dustin Ingram looking like a deranged Napoleon Dynamite is simply wonderful as a troubled 21 year old virgin who refuses to admit that he's got Assberger's. Mary Martello exudes maternal love and humor as Joyce, Jared's long suffering mother, while Grace Gonglewski as Phyllis fumes and frets and fights against what she calls the “White Male Gaze”. Christopher Coucill is just right as the laid back artist, Frank Bonitatibus who seems to have landed in a female soup of “sturm und drang”.
Director Anne Kauffman has nicely modulated the evening so that the flow of dialogue always seems natural and never over the top, without having to sacrifice any laughs. And there are plenty of them. If you didn't think it was possible to make fun of someone with Assberger's and yet still view them as a sympathetic character – think again. This is partly due to Justin Ingram's great performance and mostly due to Annie Baker's great script. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if it gets turned into a movie.
The set by Mimi Lien is lovely. Warm light wood is carried throughout the bedroom, kitchen and dining room. It's homey and yet nicely streamlined. There is a skylight in the bedroom and high windows in the kitchen through which we can see the snow constantly falling softly. It's a reminder that we're in Vermont and that it's winter. And costumes by Rosemarie McKelvey are perfect – warm, wooly and homely.