Touch(ed) – A Pioneer Memorial Theatre World Premiere Review

My old (old as in we-go-back, not old-age) buddy, Heather, invited me to opening day of the play, Touch(ed). Heather had boasted on many occasions, how the University of Utah’s Pioneer Memorial Theatre is ecstatic about this world premiere play, the first time to hit the open stage. So, I held her accountable for the mildly high expectations I developed.

Cut to the core of it all, Touch(ed) is about the love between two sisters. Kay (played by Jennifer Joan Thompson) has spent the last eight years visiting and caring for her mentally ill older sister Emma (Kelly Hutchinson). Tired and exhausted, Kay struggles to find a way to get her sister back.

L-R: Kelly Hutchinson, Jennifer Joan Thompson. Photo by Alexander Weisman

I only knew a few things about the play.

  1. It was about sisters, one had some sort of disease or illness.
  2. I assumed it was about their relationship; I had seen the poster of them hugging.
  3. World premiere — so… not an established, already acclaimed play.
  4. Heather had told me there were a few funny bits to the play.

This is what surprised me.

  1. Bess Wohl is a brilliant observer of humankind — the writing was completely genius, witty and true-to-life.
  2. Although it was about the relationship between two sisters, in hindsight, I think it focused more on one sister.
  3. It was heart-warming, depressing, powerful and (to sound a bit corny) I was definitely touched.
  4. The cast of four fills the stage with grandeur presence and personality.

To sum it up quickly… I loved it. I was moved. I was Touch(ed) (okay okay, that’s the last pun I’ll use). Bess Wohl is on my lookout list, with such a mighty pen to paper to stage talent, I was immediately sucked in by the honest and heart-felt personalities of each character — the great acting didn’t hurt either. There were a few instances where I wanted to jump up onto stage and take part — it just felt so real.

Although, I do question the ending. My mind is running a hamster wheel of constant thought, why did it end that way? Why did she do that? Why didn’t she do this? Bess Wohl, if you’re reading, I’d be interested in poking away at your thoughts.

Okay, enough about my thoughts on the play. Go see it! I’m genuinely interested in how others experience it. I may have talked it up a lot, but I want to forewarn you of an extremely annoying character — just beware. The play isn’t quite the same without that character. I loved the play, but still, that character was annoying.

Touch(ed) plays in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah Pioneer Memorial Theatre until January 23rd. It plays six days a week with seven shows: 7:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday Evenings; 8:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday Evenings; 2:00 p.m. Saturday Matinees. Buy tickets at Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

After you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought!

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