Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Restoration" by Claudia Shear

Strong, smart female characters, often outsiders . . . People longing to connect and break through so they can find their place in the world . . . These are recurrent embodiments found in the inventive work of playwright and actress, Claudia Shear.

In her one-woman show (and subsequent book), "Blown Sideways Through Life," Shear chronicled the relentless odyssey of the 64 day jobs she held while striving to become an actress. In Shear's next play, "Dirty Blonde," she posed a question: If people knew who I am, would they still love me? In this play, two lost souls--Jo and Charlie--share an obsession for Mae West, a lonely woman nobody ever really knew outside of her work on the silver screen.

In Shear's latest, "Restoration," currently in production at The New York Theater Workshop, Shear once again explores how a fervent commitment to art has the power to build bridges between people.

When "Restoration" opens, Giulia (played by Shear) is an outcast in the artistic community.  Outspoken, she has been sued because she has slandered the restoration efforts of one of her peers.  Thus, she is living a rather isolated existence as an art restorer and historian who teaches at Brooklyn College.  A mentor and former professor of Giulia's opens a door of opportunity.  Through his efforts, Giulia is selected to restore the statue of David (Michelangelo) in Florence, Italy in honor of the 500th birthday of this artistic masterpiece.

Giulia's journey, and each character she meets along the way, explores how cultivating a passion for and an appreciation of art allows a person to serve something larger than her/himself and in the process, restore a sense of purpose and self-worth. "Restoration" is beautifully written and performed. It emerges as a multi-layered love story about beauty, life, death, the redemptive power of art, and the resilient nature of humanity. Don't miss it!

Photo of Claudia Shear and Jonathan Cake from The New York Theater Workshop website