Molly Sweeney

The Delta Boys
At Burning Coal Theatre
Through Oct. 9

Frank, the exuberant but not entirely trustworthy autodidact in the drama Molly Sweeney, may be off the beam in his description of how blind people make sense of the world. On the other hand, his analysis actually does give a fair depiction of how people take in a play.

For our understanding isn’t instant and comprehensive (as he imagines sightedness is). Instead, we “compos[e] a world from a sequence of impressions; one after the other, in time.”

At first, in this rewarding Delta Boys production at Burning Coal Theatre, the jagged jigsaw pieces of playwright Brian Friel’s disjunctive monologues gradually, almost teasingly, fill in the story of a young Irish woman given a second chance at sight. But as unexpected consequences unfold from her two eye operations, the pieces inexorably fall. Their increasingly ungentle landing not only fills in a most disturbing picture; their impact ultimately obliterates the picture as well.

As directed by Kathryn LeTrent, Samantha Corey fully captures the initial confidence of the title character, a woman whose fearless vision of the world hasn’t been hampered by her lack of eyesight.

But things change, as Friel’s text becomes an extended meditation on the physical and metaphorical blind spot in all human reckonings. Over a replenished glass of Jameson’s, Molly’s doctor, the starchy Mr. Rice (an equally starchy Stephen LeTrent), critiques his professional blindsightthe medical term for a patient whose eyes can see, but whose brain is unable to make visual sense of it. Molly’s husband, Frank (a strong Lucius Robinson), displays a different sort of myopia in animated recollections of his previous exploits and his efforts to restore his wife’s sight.

By Corey’s simply devastating final scene, a sense of nearly classic tragedy has enveloped R.S. Buck’s simple, atmospheric stage. The crushing truth descends: The disaster we have witnessed hasn’t come despite this trio’s good intentions. It could only have happened because of them. Recommended.