AND NEITHER HAVE I WINGS TO FLY, at Victory Gardens Theater. This new production of Ann Noble Massey's 1995 play transforms what first struck me as a dreary melodrama of small-town life in 1950s Ireland into a glorious fable about decisions, love, and--well, having wings to fly. (To be fair, my original qualms were shared by almost no one: the premiere was a sensation and set the Seanachai Theatre Company on its feet.)
Director David Cromer brings out every level of the text, handling its realism, its symbolism, and its magic with equal facility. This staging is utterly assured as it follows two sisters in the days between their mother's death and the younger sister's wedding. As Eveline, Susan Bennett has every martyred mannerism of a dutiful older sister down--but she doesn't stop there, responding with wonderful freshness as new possibilities arise. Christian Stolte is splendid as the most dangerous of those possibilities, a bad-boy Prince Charming in the Stanley Kowalski vein, capable of salvation through the love of a good woman. The only weak link in the cast is John Judd as the father; in the 1995 production, the father's big storytelling scene was the riotous anchor of the second act, but here it's something of a dud.
Still, And Neither Have I Wings to Fly is lovely, a piece that takes its time and earns its happy ending. Give us more.