Stage

Close Up Space: A Comedy With Somber Tones About a Father and Daughter

When Molly Smith Metzler was a senior in college she took a course in playwriting, setting her on a new "hard" path.

The "hard" comes from what she says are the demands of writing a play. "Your toolbox is so small when you write a play. It's the most reduced form of story telling," she says, explaining that most of what she writes is what people say -- as opposed to a novelist who describes what a place looks like and what people are thinking.

Now her play Close Up Space, is coming to Main Street Theatre and although it is not autobiographical, it does mirror her own lengthy estrangement from her father, she says.

In the play, which was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, father Paul Barrow is a book editor, consumed by a need to set things straight grammatically, to eliminate all unnecessary words.

That he does this to the expulsion notice sent to him by his daughter's school points to the enormous chasm there is between the two main characters - which only becomes wider when daughter Harper shows up, speaking only Russian to him.

Metzler says she and her own father didn't speak for almost 10 years.

"Tthere was so much anger and pain there. I knew I wanted to write about estrangement, but it wasn't until we rekindled that I found I could. I do find that when he and I finally did get together and had a dinner I found we didn't have a language in common together, we kind of had to create a new language to speak about our pain. Sometimes grief doesn't even have a language so we have to take extreme measures to reach each other."

Despite its sometimes somber tone, this play which she calls a comedy is uplifting and hopeful, Metzler says. "The whole play builds toward reconciliation." And it should appeal, she says, to general audiences. "Most of us have people we're estranged from in our life and we might not know how to close up that space."

Cast members include Brittny Bush, Rutherford Cravens, Joanna Hubbard, Carolyn Johnson and David Wald.

Close Up Space opens May 23 and runs through June 16. (7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays) at Main Street Theatre, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheatre.com. $20-$36.

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