For good Darwinian reasons, we remember trauma with more clarity than pleasure. This, perhaps, is why tragediennes win more awards than their comedienne counterparts. Last year, Nanique Gheridian turned in a memorable performance as Sheila, the frightened, mousy wife of razor-witted Colin (played by Todd Allen Durkin). Abused, afraid to speak above a squeak, and seemingly incapable of articulating an opinion about anything, she spent the whole play trying her best to disappear. She seemed to grow smaller each time Durkin opened his mouth. Her laughter, always nervous, became ever more tremulous until it was just a tickly flutter — a shamed little spasm of the tonsils. Her character was a woman embarrassed to be alive, and she made her embarrassment our own. Many thespians could have done likewise, but Gheridian went further by making us see the woman her character could have been. When her eyes shyly appraised her feet, they were wise eyes, full of intelligence. You could read in her face the thousand cutting things she'd love to say to her husband, if only she could open her mouth.

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