Jeff Daniels's Across the Way
You'd never know this was a rookie script. In its thirteenth season now, the Purple Rose has honed and matured its talent and sense of purpose to a point where it can effortlessly carry a difficult new script such as this one from playwright to director to cast. Daniels is, of course, the benefactor of the Purple Rose and has written some other plays as well, but Across the Way is not something you'd expect to find in the trajectory of the career that produced Escanaba in da Moonlight. As it happens, I strongly disliked Escanaba, but whether you hated or loved it, this is an almost unbelievable departure, revealing an awesome versatility.
You're not likely to see this play on the high school circuit though it doesn't actually feature nudity, it is richly sexual but it may indeed have the legs of Our Town.
Across the Way continues its run at the Purple Rose every Wednesday through Sunday into December.
[Originally published in November, 2002.]