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Review: 'Water By the Spoonful' is vivid, human

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013

Despite that grim realization and their strapped budget, the cousins decide on the most expensive and exotic floral arrangement for their aunt, knowing they can't afford it but resolving to find a way, even if it leads to more hardship and worry.

It's one of many small but glorious acts of defiance that proliferate throughout this piece.

Despair is never far from Hudes' embattled characters, who all struggle in some way with addiction, regret, poverty or loss.

They're a weary and cynical bunch, but stubbornly spirited, somehow summoning the resilience to endure, and at times flourish, no matter the brutal truth of their circumstances or emotional cost. And that cost is often steep.

Under the direction of Davis McCallum, the talented cast, which also includes Liza Colon-Zayas, Frankie R. Faison and Sue Jean Kim, creates starkly real portraits of flawed but deeply conscientious people, all searching for an elusive path to some spiritual high ground.

This hazardous but relentless growth in a world of full of restrictions is reflected abstractly in Neil Patel's unusual but effective set — a drab, gray grid streaked with broad swaths of lush plant life that appear as if they sprouted through cracks in a cement sidewalk.

"Water By the Spoonful" is the second in a trilogy of plays. Its precursor — "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue" — was a Pulitzer finalist in 2007. The third play in the trilogy, "The Happiest Song Plays Last," is scheduled to make its world premiere in April 2013 in Chicago, leaving us left to wonder what's next for this uncommonly gifted playwright.