Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Hard Bargain Players Talley’s Folly

By • May 4th, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Hard Bargain Players’ production of Talley’s Folly [MP3 5:38 2.6MB].

Talley’s Folly
Hard Bargain Players
Hard Bargain Amphitheatre, Acokeek, MD
$12/$10 Students and Seniors
Through May 17th

Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio Review of Talley’s Folly, performed by the Hard Bargain Players at the Hard Bargain amphitheatre in Accokeek, Maryland. We saw the opening night performance on Friday, May 2, 2008.

Mike: Talley’s Folly is a play by Lanford Wilson. It has won both a Pulitzer Prize and and Drama Desk Critic Award. It deals with a courtship during WWII. Set on a perfect moonlit July evening in a decaying Victorian boathouse, rural spinster Sally, and Matt, an accountant from St. Louis, find a way to love each other.

Laura: Because this was opening night there were some rough spots. The show opened with Matt Friedman (played by Doug Graupman), coming out on stage and setting the tone for the evening by telling us what we were going to be seeing. He mentioned that it was a waltz and I could see that. As they were talking, he would try to get close to her and she would push him away. She then would ask him a personal question and he would walk away and become defensive and did not want to open up. I could kind of see a waltz in that.

Mike: I disagree. I did not see a waltz. I saw a more frenetic and active dance. They were not in sync with each other, but were resistant and in turn flinging the other away from themselves and then coming back together again harshly. Maybe the very last bit was a waltz, but I don’t think they quite hit that sense of being in tune with each other that is necessary for a waltz.

Laura: In the Director’s note it mentions this is a ‘charming romantic comedy about love, secrets, hope, and fulfillment of our dreams.’ I could see the secrets. There was a secret revealed towards the end of the play that I will not reveal. That, I think, led to the hope between the two of them and therefore their coming together.

Mike: In the opening monologue that Matt Friedman gives, he talks about this waltz that they will be doing and that it is a 97 minute waltz. However the pacing of the show did drag some. The show ended up, including the monologue at the beginning, almost two hours long. That could partially be because the pacing of the show was slow, by the end of the show, I did not care what happened to the actors. The hope was lost on me to a point. I’m glad they got together at the end (which I know gives away that they do get together). However, I did not care as much because it felt so dragged out. There were several false endings. A sense of accomplishment, and the reward of getting the two of them together. I felt it didn’t live up to the expectations.

Laura: Suzanne Donohue played Sally Talley in the play. She had the right voice inflection and the right volume throughout the show. I liked the scene at the end when she was revealing her secret to Matt. I thought she showed some real emotion and the pacing picked up at that point.

Mike: Matt Friedman, the St. Louis accountant, was played by Doug Graupman. The character of Friedman was a 42 year old immigrant from Eastern Europe, which was a major plot point in trying to figure out where he was from. The opening scene was Friedman explaining to the audience what was going to be revealed in the play. Graupman did not make the Friedman character a strong enough character. He had almost a breathless quality to his voice. He was very soft spoken. Because of that it made him hard to hear. Hard Bargain is an amphitheatre with a road right next to the theatre, and there were planes overhead from National Airport. This makes it a challenge for the performers and for parts of the play I could not hear what he was saying. There were times when he would go into a story and become other characters sharing their points of view. In those scenes he was very strong and I think he did a good job in those roles. Unfortunately they were few and far between. Most of the play he was difficult to hear.

Laura: I think he came alive and out of his shell a bit when he would impersonate members of Sally’s family and picked up the Southern twang and let loose. The rest of the time I felt he was a little flat, hard to hear, and had one expression most of the time.

Mike: There was one story he told late in the show that he should have really had a big moment. However, the way his emotions came across in the story as pretty flat. Part of that was the issue he was having with his lines during the performance. Hopefully that will get better now that he has performed in front of a real audience.

Laura: Talley’s Folly was actually a good choice for the Hard Bargain Amphitheatre. In the director’s notes it talks about a boat house in the middle of nowhere. When you get down to the theater you find a boat and a boathouse. And you did feel like you were in the middle of nowhere.

Mike: Talley’s Folly is playing through Saturday May 17. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm at the Hard Bargain Amphitheatre in Accokeek, Maryland. The show runs just about two hours with no intermission. This is the first show of Hard Bargain’s 2008 season. Later this season they will be performing Bash, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, and the Weir.

Laura: And now, on with the show.


  • Sally Talley: Suzanne Donohoe
  • Matt Friedman: Doug Graupman


  • Director: Juliette Kelsey Chagnon
  • Stage Manager and Crew Member: Jack Donnelly
  • Lighting Designer/Master Electrician: April D. Weimer
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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