So I caught BODY AWARENESS at the Hyde Park Theater this weekend in Austin, a recent play by oh-so-hot Annie Baker ("Circle Mirror Transformation"). I worried at first the premise seemed a bit cutesy: that a liberal college in New England declares an oh-so-politically-correct "Body Awareness Week" and various complications ensue. But BODY AWARENESS is more clever--and certainly more moving--than that, as a lesbian couple affiliated with the college attempts to raise a son afflicted with Asperger Syndrome. Thus the titular "body awareness" plays out in all sorts of senses, both in those hyper-sensitive to the language of the body (e.g. feminist professors) and those who are total oblivious (e.g. those afflicted with Asperger Syndrome). It's a difficult balancing act, but it works: Baker has an ear for awkwardness, and awkward encounters are the stuff of drama. Moreover, director Ken Webster has assembled an excellent cast of four, and has put every inch of Hyde Park's small stage to
good use. (A sort of bonus: given the close and cramped quarters of the audience's seating, trust me, you'll be aware of bodies all evening.)
Saturday night's performance was sold out, so if you're heading up to Austin, be sure to get tickets in advance.
Your man in the theatrical trenches,
Tom Jenkins, Current Theater Critic