When Lucy speaks as her mom, it’s with a kind of descriptive bodily shorthand, conjuring sharp edges and a nasal twang. The caricature within the imitation underscores the space between what Lucy got here from and what she has develop into. But now, in extremis, all Lucy desires is mommy, and he or she desires mommy to inform her tales.
And although she begins reluctantly, Lucy’s mom seems to be a corn nation Scheherazade, with successive tales of native girls who aspired above their station and normally got here to dangerous ends. They are acquainted tales and but completely distinctive from each other, with startling particulars that counsel the perversity of flailing souls who misinterpret their very own intentions.
“People,” Lucy says, wonderingly, after her mom finishes an anecdote a couple of runaway spouse. Her mom echoes, “People.” It’s a beautiful second of fleeting complicity between mom and daughter.
As for topics nearer to their Amgash, Ill., dwelling, particularly Lucy’s tormented father, her mom sidesteps these with discomfort and disapproval. It is for her daughter to fill in these gaps for us, with accounts of the form of numbing, oppressive and outright abusive existence that so many individuals settle for as a life sentence.
Lucy didn’t, although. Why? Her trajectory from childhood to school, to marriage and motherhood, and finally to a profession as a profitable fiction author, is pretty standard in abstract. It feels like a kind of inspirational survivor tales, of success in opposition to the chances, that are repeatedly packaged for mass consumption.
But Lucy conveys an abiding air of shock that each one this occurred to her. Linney’s presence right here is deferential, nearly shy. From the second she enters, strolling rapidly and speaking briskly, you sense that it requires aware, self-preaching will energy for her to inform us all this.
But when Lucy says she has develop into ruthless — as those that first knew she needed to be a author suggested her she must be — we imagine her. This implies that the truths she is telling damage — us and her. And they after all aren’t the entire fact.
But aren’t we grateful for the alchemical, unquantifiable combine of things that enables this girl — embodied by this actress, at this second, on this place — to share with us so raptly what she is aware of, and even thinks she is aware of? When Lucy says, with a satisfaction that’s greater than happiness, that “all life amazes me,” we really feel precisely what she means.
My Name Is Lucy Barton
Tickets Through Feb. 29 on the Samuel J. Friedman Theater; manhattantheatreclub.com. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.