Perhaps you will not wonder, as I did, what the half-part of “Bright Half Life” meant in the context of Tanya Barfield’s play. Suffice it to say, I just had to look it up! Then I noticed that the play takes place in the years between 1985 to 2031. Adding two and two, I had an insight into the play that I wish I had had when watching the performance. Here is the definition: “the time taken for the radioactivity of a specified isotope to fall to half its original value”. B.H.L, I’ll call it, is a “two-hander” depicting the romance, life together, break-up, and reunion between Vicky (Kacie Rogers) and Erica (Tiffany Wolff), and we are treated to witnessing their half-life of the explosion of their love.
Playwright Barfield cleverly winds past and present through the thread of their relationship – through Coney Island rides, Sky Diving excursions and the more mundane job of raising children. Through it all, we see the mechanics of how the relationship works. Erica is governed by sensation and experiences, while Vicky is more grounded and realistic. Watching the two negotiate their lives together and ultimate return to each other is both intriguing and rewarding.
Director Amy Harmon navigates Barfield’s short, staccato, cinematic style with panache. Instead of blackouts (monotonous and repetitive), she enjoins her actors, with slight bodily positioning, to continue a new scene in similar postures before moving forward into the new scene. The result seems as if there were sloppy but completely genius edits throughout.
Less successful, though, are the time-jumps back and forth that demand the actors age or de-age at the snap of a finger. As compelling actors as Rogers and Wolff prove to be, they simply have no time to manage changes back and forth from their twenties until their fifties. Ultimately, it must be acknowledged that Barfield has written a compelling film and that Amy Harmon, along with the pitch-perfect support of setting (Brian Graves), lighting (Derrick McDaniel), sound (Marc Antonio Pritchett), costuming (Mary Jane Miller) and especially, projections (Nicholas Santiago), had directed a perfect piece that belongs on celluloid.
Bright Half Life runs Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; and Sundays at 2 pm through May 8th before entering repertory on Thursday, Mary 12 at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 pm and Sundays at 7:30 through May 22nd. Tickets, $39.00, Students & Seniors, $15.00, with Sundays pay-what-you can. There is a three-play season pass for $75.00. For reservations call 818-761-8838 or online at www.roadtheatre.org.