The Attic Theater Company's new Off-Broadway revival of John Patrick Shanley’s 1986 play, the dreamer examines his pillow, is a thought provoking examination of love, sex and how the subconscious mind is influenced by our parents no matter how hard we try to avoid it. One of Mr. Shanley’s lesser known works, pillow focuses on just three characters who often speak in metaphors about the terror of losing one’s identity that comes with loving too much.
The play, directed by Laura Braza, opens on Tommy (played by Shane Patrick Kearns) speaking to his mini fridge in the midst of full-blown depression, his self-loathing exacerbated by booze, isolation, and the fact that he has lost the love of his life, Donna (played by Lauren Nicole Cipoletti). Dropping in on Tommy to berate him for chasing after her teenage sister, Donna winds up feeling confused by overwhelming feelings of lust and love that she hadn’t anticipated. Managing to push aside her desires and fleeing from Tommy’s advances, she goes to seek the counsel of her father, known simply as Dad (played by Dennis Parlato), in order to figure out whether she should be with Tommy or not.
One would think that Donna’s decision should come easily. Tommy is a loser with serious morality issues, and it looks as though his past actions have finally caught up with him. The healthy choice is obvious to the audience, as well as to Donna, played smart and in fiery fashion by Ms. Cipoletti. But when she visits the former artist and smooth-tongued ladies’ man Dad, it’s evident why Donna's having trouble escaping the Electra complex she’s tried so hard to beat.
Under Ms. Braza’s direction, Ms. Cipoletti, Mr. Kearns and Mr. Parlato bring humanity to a group of passionate souls who make horrible decisions, even with the benefit of hindsight. While the dialogue can sound clunky at times, it is made palatable distilled through the lives of blue collar folks, who seem as though they would live comfortably beside the characters from Shanley’s other works, including Doubt and Moonstruck. The actors deftly handle the material, turning the play into a sexy and humorous 90 minute romp. The ending may boggle the mind, but the ride getting there is mostly entertaining.