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Jonathan Graham as Matt Friedman and Sandy Ziviani as Sally Talley
Jonathan Graham as Matt Friedman and Sandy Ziviani as Sally Talley

Talley’s Folly at Cloverdale Performing Arts Center

Mar 9, 2020


Reviewed by Malena Eljumaily

Talley’s Folly, by Lanford Wilson, now playing at Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, could be described as a romantic comedy. It’s romantic and it’s funny, but one hesitates to call this little gem a rom-com because of all the baggage movies of that ilk carry with them. This play is more subtle, refined, profound, and of course, no Meg Ryan.

The entire play takes place at a run-down boathouse owned by the well-to-do Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri. Kudos to scenic and lighting designer Yave Guzman (also CPAC’s artistic director) for creating this marvelous set. All the little details lead to the audience believing they are sitting by a lazy river in the summer of 1944. Reflections on the pier look exactly like dappled sunlight. Ruben Guzman’s sound design includes just the right complement of chirping insects and mournful wails from distant birds. This background sound is unobtrusive, the perfect canvas for the actors to create on.

Enter Matt Friedman, played with panache and vulnerability by Jonathan Graham. Matt is an accountant, good with numbers, but maybe not so good with people. He has come back with a hopeful heart to visit with “his girl” and maybe take things a step further.

That girl is Sally Talley (Sandy Ziviani), a lovely young woman who should be shining bright as the daughter of the town’s factory owner. But in the family’s eyes she is something of a black sheep.

Ziviani does a fine job of portraying Sally as guarded, but determined. The tension is always there in her and sometimes it reaches the surface.

There are complicating factors working against this couple, which include, but are not limited to there being a war on, his being Jewish and her not wanting to reveal herself even if it means a chance for happiness.

Of course, most of the movement in this play comes from the dialog. As these two characters talk, ague, and flirt, there is always more that’s not being said. They each have their own agendas and work to different ends. It’s a delight to watch and listen to.

In any two-person play, the actors alone carry the burden of making it work. Okay, some credit must be given to the playwright who won a Pulitzer Prize for Talley’s FollyArte L. Whyte made his job easier by casting Graham and Ziviani, who have a good chemistry and are very believable as these characters. We like Matt and Sally, even as we wish they’d be honest with themselves and each other.

I’ve always loved the double meaning of the word folly. It’s something to think about as you listen to these two characters foolishly dance around the truth.

Running March 7, 14, and 21 at 7:30pm; March 8, 15, and 22 at 2pm.


Cloverdale Performing Arts Center,209 N Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale

This show consists of 2 actors: Jonathan Graham as Matt Friedman and Sandy Ziviani as Sally Talley. 

Photos by Pam Browning


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