Well-Spun Theater Debut

Prominent local theater critic brings knotty debut play to Dallas stage

Longtime local theater critic brings knotty debut play to Dallas stage

Elaine Liner in Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love
Elaine Liner's Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love runs December 12-15 at MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville. Photo by Mark Oristano

Longtime Dallas arts critic Elaine Liner recently added playwright to her resume when her solo comedy, Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love, debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland this past August. Now Dallas audiences can see the play that Fringe critics declared “dramatic, charming and full of wit” when Our Productions Theatre Company brings it to the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville December 12-15.

The funny, poignant play weaves together Liner’s obsessions with knitting, great literature that mentions knitting (think The Odyssey and A Tale of Two Cities), old movies in which Bette Davis knits, and the knotty problems of romance. The term “sweater curse” refers to an old wives’ tale that warns never to knit for one you love; he (or she) will leave before you finish the project.

“I remember all the times I’ve tried to knit for boyfriends and was left with lumpy, unfinished projects and lumpy, finished relationships,” Liner says. “There’s a knitting term, ‘tink,’ which is ‘knit’ backward, that means un-knitting your work to fix mistakes. I’ve had to tink back my love life a few times.”

Liner finished her one-act in 2012 and performed it herself at the 2013 Edinburg Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. Directed by San Antonio theater director Tim Hedgepeth, the show opened at the Sweet/Grassmarket Theatre August 1 and played 25 performances to five-star reviews and sold-out houses — including lots of knitters.

As they were in Scotland, knitters and crocheters are encouraged to bring their projects and continue adding stitches during the December show. However, as the critic for The Scotsman put it, “No prior knowledge of knitting is required to enjoy this intimate, personable play.”

Liner earned her degree in theater from Trinity University, with a master’s from Southern Methodist University. She has been a professional writer, specializing in arts and media criticism, since the 1980s. She is the theater critic at the Dallas Observer, and she has written for CultureMap Dallas, the New York Times, Village Voice and dozens of other publications.

She was the James Thurber Playwright-in-Residence at Ohio State University and a critic fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute. Follow Liner on Tumblr or Twitter for updates on performances and to get free knitting and crocheting patterns.