‘“A” Train’ at Center Stage
Anne Torsiglieri Triumphs in Story of Child Rearing Challenges
This heartbreaking and funny new play about Autism Spectrum Disorder has everything one could ask for in a solo show. As Amy, the extraordinarily wise and resilient mother of twin boys, one of whom is diagnosed with ASD, Anne Torsiglieri lets it all hang out — her anger and frustration at an inflexible, bureaucratic medical system that fails to accept the individual differences that make each case of autism unique, but also her high spirits and zest for living, even when things are at their darkest. Moving cinematically through portraying a large cast of characters and singing more than a half dozen full-blown musical numbers composed by Brad Carroll, Torsiglieri displays a majestic command of the full range of theatrical and musical performance styles. Her songs move the plot forward; her asides take you by (pleasant) surprise; and her reactions, in the big moments, brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.
Autism, truly one of the 21st century’s most complex social and health issues, is mapped here with an almost uncanny precision and emotional detail. We see the expressions and hear the voices of people affected by it in any number of ways, and no single perspective is ultimately privileged over any of the others. When Torsiglieri’s real-life ASD son’s voice is finally heard as part of the show’s soundtrack, the impact is overwhelming. An unusual circumstance suddenly becomes a universal sense of recognition, the acknowledgement that we are all equal in the shadow of fate and in our access to the joys of the moment.