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Review: Maher, There Is a Happiness That Morning Is

Mickle Maher. There Is a Happiness That Morning Is. Theater Oobleck, DCA Storefront Theater, Chicago, 14 April–22 May 2011. <>.

Mary Poindexter Silverstein is a historian and retired English teacher living in Chicago.

1 In There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, Mickle Maher has imagined a witty, amusing, and moving love story about two college professors, inspired by two of William Blake’s poems. The first poem, “Infant Joy” from Songs of Innocence, is taught by the exuberant Bernard (Colm O’Reilly). The second, “The Sick Rose” from Songs of Experience, is taught by the precise, severe Ellen (Diana Slickman). The college dean, James (Kirk Anderson), serves as the worm in this Garden of Eden. The audience serves as the students in the classroom. William Blake, eighteenth-century poet, is front, center stage. His poems, chalked with artistic flourish on a large blackboard which dominates the stage, are always in front of the student–audience. They are referred to again and again by the characters, speaking in verse. So skilled are the actors that this seems natural, while it adds texture and increases the emotions of the plot.
2 Tension develops from the public lovemaking of these two teachers, witnessed by the dean. James, speaking in prose in contrast to Bernard and Ellen, insists that the two apologize publicly. An argument among the three ends with the dean being tossed to the floor in so realistic a manner that the audience is called upon for a doctor. When a doctor proves unnecessary, Bernard and Ellen return to making love, to everyone’s relief. To be convincing, this one-act play needs the best of actors, as it had in this production. The starkness of the set, a blackboard with two podiums, serves to focus the audience on the Blake poems and the developing, multilayered, imaginative love story. Ellen Bernard James
  Photos by John Sisson, Jr., reproduced by permission of Theater Oobleck

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