Tanya Barfield’s Bright Half Life at Women's Project Theater is an ode to the sacrifices we make for love. The play shows us distilled flashes of one couple’s long term relationship, from their initial butterflies to eventual child rearing, divorce, and post-marriage peacemaking with one another.
There are no spoilers in the above description, because the course of events is clear early on in the play. As in memory, the relationship’s defining moments unfold out of sequence, some more vivid than others. The script demands virtuosic performances from the couple, tenderly played by Rebecca Henderson and Rachael Holmes.
The scenes shift rapidly, rocketing forward and backwards in time. They begin in the middle and end abruptly, revealing only the sweet spot - or the most painful part - of each interaction. This collection of glimpses into the characters’ lifetime together is universal and unbelievably specific at the same time. We see the Vicky and Erica at various points throughout the 1990s and early 2000s in New York City, but identify with the larger ebbs and flows of their journey together.
If it weren’t for the heartfelt camaraderie between Ms. Henderson and Ms. Holmes, Bright Half Life might feel like a reasonable argument against long term romantic commitment. Instead, the play is a celebration of the risks we take to build a life with another person. Are those risks worth it, even if the relationship dissolves? This joyous production seems to say yes.