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Angelica Torn Performs Solo in "Edge" about Sylvia Plath
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Angelica Torn Performs Solo in "Edge" about Sylvia Plath

- Backstage with the Playwrights

The Artists Theatre Group
Torn Page Productions
Starring Angelica Torn
as Sylvia Plath
(Sylvia Plath Bio)
Written and Directed by Paul Alexander

ArcLight Theatre
152 West 71st Street

Associate Producer: Lucky Penny Productions
Production Stage Manager: Samantha Tella
Lighting Designer: William St. John
Assistant to the Producer: Glenn Grieves
Assistant Stage Manager: Matt Everett
House Manager: Maya Flock

Publicity: Maya Public Relations, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 25, 2007

Edge is the most daring and riveting one-actor production I’ve seen in years. Angelica Torn, as the celebrated writer and poet, Sylvia Plath, embodies lust, cynicism, adoration, self-deprecation, hatred, fury, and palpable needs in full view of the audience on a mostly bare, dim stage in a small theatre housed in a West Side religious school. Ms. Torn is the daughter of Geraldine Page and Rip Torn, and her talent is limitless. Ms. Torn accomplishes the feat of inspiring her audience to learn more of Ms. Plath, to question her choices and seek out her poems. She also reveals her own vulnerabilities and humanity, as she came out of role to offer a coughing woman a drink from her own water glass. That water glass is one of Ms. Torn’s few props and necessary to her explosive monologue, as she shares insights and feelings about her mother, father, children, husband, and, eventually, her husband’s mistress.

Ms. Plath grew up in the Boston area (as did this writer), and the tales of Winthrop, Wellesley, and Smith College seem authentic and relevant to what was the New England ambiance of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Ms. Torn searingly relates the cause of her father’s death from Diabetes, as he had assumed he was dying of a fatal disease and sought medical help too late for what would have been curable, after all. Ms. Torn thrashes her leg against the stage, just as Plath’s father would have slammed his prosthetic leg. The loneliness of Sylvia Plath, the child, as she was denied going to her father’s funeral, followed by the loneliness of Sylvia Plath, the adult, visiting his gravesite, both pour forth from the lips and persona of Ms. Torn, as she sits on her chair and lies on the grave.

Paul Alexander has written and directed Edge, and he also wrote Plath’s biography. He obviously is an acutely informed playwright, infusing emotional and logistical nuance at every turn. At times, Ms. Torn sputters rapid-paced conversation, some to herself and some to the audience, with words flying through the air like fireworks. Her expression is mesmerizing, and the audience soon realizes (if they have not read reviews or promotions) that they will witness Ms. Plath’s dramatic death. Ms. Torn advises the audience that “razor blades hurt”, as Ms. Plath learned on an early suicide attempt, between semesters at Smith, and we hope for the euphemistic image, over the frightening re-enactment of her eventual demise. As it was, Ms. Torn’s retelling of her (Plath’s) electro-shock treatments was chilling.

The earlier death attempt was finally followed by residency at McLean Hospital (where this writer’s mother worked as a laboratory technician for many years), and Ms. Torn morphed into the psychologist, who urged her to visit her father’s grave for personal closure. In fact, Angelica Torn’s ability to so seamlessly embody her cast of characters allowed the audience to feel their presence onstage and off, as well as to know them on very personal terms. The main character that drove Ms. Plath to her plight was Ted Hughes, her seething, dictatorial, British husband. Unfortunately, his verbal and physical abuse did not destroy her lust for him, as she stood in the window, to feel his presence, as he would turn the corner to meet his mistress. Such a brilliant writer (Sylvia Plath wrote the autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar), yet she ultimately won her husband’s approval and appreciation by removing herself from his life and his home.

In fact, Ted Hughes’ second wife (whom Plath called “the cow”) died the exact same death, in the exact same manner, in the exact same house, as she and Hughes had moved in and cared for Plath and Hughes’ two young children. Plath was outraged that her husband left her, and she chose death over divorce, escape over acceptance. Her anger and lust will be fodder for analytic discussions for decades and beyond. Angelica Torn premiered Edge in 2003, and this repeat engagement is all too brief. Edge is much more than theatre. Edge enacts the human condition. Kudos to Angelica Torn, and kudos to Paul Alexander.

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

Angelica Torn in "Edge"
Photo Courtesy of MayaPRNY

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at