The Pen by Dan Collins (book) and Julianne Wick Davis (music)
Starring Nancy Anderson
P R E S S:
NYT Critics' Pick
“The Pen” is the stop-you-in-your-tracks reason to go to “Inner Voices,” a program of three new musical monologues presented by Premieres at TBG Theater. With words by Dan Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis — the team behind “Southern Comfort,” which won praise last season at the Public Theater — “The Pen” is one of those rare shows that elicit wonder all the way through, not just at the material but also at the exquisite combination of assembled talent.
Directed by Margot Bordelon, Ms. Anderson plays Laura, a woman who starts her day with an upbeat, even perky, determination. High-energy and funny just looking for her keys, she’s swiftly and completely sympathetic. So we already like her when, rooting through her purse, she finds a chewed-on purple pen she’s never seen before."
"In Inner Voices 2016, one voice shines out gloriously. There are three 35-minute solo musicals in the 2016 edition of the biannual Inner Voices series, and one of them is a wonder. The Pen is about a woman named Laura who suffers from what seems to be a germophobic form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and who discovers a mysterious, chewed-up purple pen in her purse. At first, her resulting panic seems comical; but it becomes genuinely poignant, even harrowing, as lyricist Dan Collins and composer Julianne Warwick Davis—the team behind Southern Comfort—dig deeper into Laura’s isolation and mania.
Laura is played by a tremendously impressive Nancy Anderson, who digs into the role with the fervor of an actor who knows that she couldn’t ask for a better part to show off her multitude of talents. The beauty of her vocals is equaled by the range and precision of her acting in a highly demanding part; it’s an immaculate performance. “They call me crazy / But in that cute and friendly way,” Laura sings of her coworkers. “Like it means funny / Like it means nothing.” Anderson is something."
"With Margot Bordelon’s sensitive direction, Dan Collins’ penetrating characterization of obsessive-compulsive disorder and germaphobia comes to life in Nancy Anderson’s beautifully sung and acted tour-de-force performance in The Pen."
- Deb Miller, DCMetro Arts
"As The Pen unfolds, the monolog demands heavy acting chops along with the demanding music that Davis has also orchestrated. Anderson, as anyone who has followed her career knows, is up to the challenge and beyond it. It may be that some audience members will start thinking of Patricia Neway singing the impassioned "To This We've Come" aria from Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul or the Francis Poulenc-Jean Cocteau La Voix Humaine.
Is The Pen on those levels? Maybe yes, maybe no, but while, under Margot Bordelon crafty direction, Anderson is suffering Laura's barely contained, profound despair, the operatic opus gives the impression of being mighty weighty."
- David Finkle, The Huffington Post
"The Pen, superbly directed by Margot Bordelon, with a stunning, heartbreaking performance by Nancy Anderson, takes us into the fragile inner life of a woman suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder....On a pristine white set, Ms. Bordelon has orchestrated moments of prolonged stillness that contrast with super hyperactivity, adding to Ms. Anderson’s already excellent physical life; time freezes in these OCD moments as the brain whirls through every possibility."
- Navida Stein, Stage Buddy
"The most impressive work among three fine musical theater pieces was The Pen by Dan Collins (words) and Julianne Wick Davis (music)… Davis’ music, highlighted by the jittery guitar playing of Tom Monkell and Dan Erben, with music direction by Alexander Rovang, is chilling and jarring, full of screechy, scratchy notes and edgy rhythms which Ms. Anderson uses to turn herself inside out emotionally, her helplessness made palpable, certainly helped by the direction of Margot Bordelon. This is simply great musical theater."
- Joel Benjamin, Theater Scene
"Anderson’s portrayal of Laura was sympathetic, as her inner demons were on full display, all prompted by the unexpected presence of the pen in her bag. Kudos to the director, Margot Bordelon; the entire performance was eye opening and very well done."
- Kristin Loughran, New York theater guide