Review: My Name is Lucy Barton, starring Laura Linney
In My Name is Lucy Barton, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout, Laura Linney plays the titular character. Lucy is a middle aged New York author, recalling a summer several years ago when she spent an extended period of time in the hospital. She tells her story straight to the audience, trying to make sense of how her life has continued since then, and how those events have shaped her moving forwards.
The trick of this play, and of Linney's performance, is that Lucy is not the only character onstage. Yes, this is a one woman show. But with a Midwest accent and plenty to gossip about, Linney not just embodies Lucy Barton, but her mother as well. It's a masterclass in acting, as she delivers two incredibly different characters in one go, barely pausing to take a breath.
It's an extraordinary little play, both sad and hopeful in its study of life and what it means to us as we realize the truth of mortality. It feels as if it were made for Linney, from the way she makes it come to life onstage, fully present and completely aware of every single detail. Throughout it's ninety minutes, there is never a moment where the audience is not completely entranced. Yes, the set may just be a hospital bed and a chair, but it is the screen behind them that transports the audience from big towns to small cities and completes the window into Lucy's life that we have the privilege of getting too see.