By Holli Harms

Trauma for children, growing up in a dysfunctional household, can neurologically alter their way of thinking in the same way PTSD can a soldier returning home from war. Turning what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, completely upside down.

Throw into that mix the relationship of sisters. They are constantly competing with one another, silently in their heads, and outwardly in not-so-silent verbal conflict. They can become obsessed over one another, with pecking order in the family, with a singular version of how things should be, and engrossed with themselves.

All of this and more is played out in Federica Borlenghi’s new play Until Dark now at 154 Christopher Street.

Cass (understudy and rocking the house Covi Loveridge Brannan) has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a student. Cass’s sister Jackie (wonderful Georgia Valenti), a criminal defense attorney, has arrived to defend her. They have not spoken in several years and their relationship is and has been rocky, but the sisters must stick together. Right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

They are both surprised by the arrival of little sister Lisa (understudy and breathtaking performance by Ana Moioli), the youngest of the trio and in many ways the most desperate for love and acceptance.

Love – that most misconstrued emotion. We understand or want to understand, what unconditional love is. The embracing love of a parent and child. Without that love, with the demands and personal restrictions of a parent when it comes to expressing what healthy love is, it becomes something else, twisted and distorted, for so many. Often sexual conduct, or misconduct, can be mistaken for love.

We mostly think of that kind of inappropriate sexual lines crossed masquerading as love to be mostly acted out by men. But what if a woman behaves in the same inappropriate way? What if what is thought to be consensual sex is not? What if a fellow female, a teacher, is the perpetrator, the piranha, and a younger woman, her student, is the victim, do the same rules apply?

Playwright Federica Borlenghi has created an evening of sibling fun and rivalry, and a deep, deep longing for connection and love in all its forms: parental, sibling, and friendship. She has placed this universal longing on top of sexual consent; what happens when a woman creates a scenario of innocence that directly matches the men of #metoo? What is the factual truth when surrounded by blurred and fuzzy lines?

Borlenghi has created a compelling, funny, and thought-provoking play that smudges the ideas of what is a victim and what is a perpetrator. At the same time, she reminds all of us what being a sibling is with all its close and intimate confusion, connection, wants, and familial joy.

I left in deep thought and thankfully another audience member, also in deep thought left at the same time. We walked and talked about the play and all its discussions of consent, family, and personal responsibility. Deep, thought-provoking theater.

Until Dark Written and directed by Federica Borlenghi

Cast: Maria Müller, Giorgia Valenti, Luisa Galatti, Covi Loveridge Brannan, Ana Moioli

Creative Team: Writer, director, costume designer Federica Borlenghi, Set and Props designer Andres Lopez-Alicea, Composer/Sound Designer Stephanie L. Carlin, Lighting designer Adrian Yuen, Stage Manager Skye Pallo Ross.

Et Alia Theater in partnership with Mo Shah and Kavita Shah in association with Covi Loveridge Brannan present Until Dark written and directed by  Federica Borlenghi.

Out of The Box Theatrics 154 Christopher Street

HERE For tickets

Running time: 75 minutes without an intermission

(Appropriate for ages 16+ with adult supervision)