Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review - . . . Double Vision (Don’t Say Miami and Joshua P. Weiss/New York International Fringe Festival)

Stage Buzz Review by Byrne Harrison

There’s something a little unfocused about . . . Double Vision, Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich’s new play being produced at the 2007 NY Fringe Festival. While quite a bit of the play rings true, especially when dealing with the subtle and not so subtle ways people sabotage the relationships that could bring them happiness, there are enough unrealistic situations to suggest that the playwright really wanted to write an absurdist piece, but felt the need to make it more palatable for a mainstream audience.

. . . Double Vision centers around three roommates: Dave (Shane Jacobsen) and Mark (Quinn Mattfeld), two 30-somethings, falling apart because of their dysfunctional relationships, and Ben (Christopher McCann), a man in his 50s blissfully happy to have found the 21-year-old of his dreams, Michelle (Sarah Silk). Mark only dates married women, for fear of allowing himself to get in too deep, and is avoiding calls from Amy, a woman who could turn out to be something meaningful. Dave is dating Mary (Rebecca Henderson), a high-powered business woman, though their relationship is on the rocks because neither one wants to address the issue of Mary’s upcoming transfer to LA. The final character in mix is Celia (Linda Jones), the boys’ next-door neighbor, who is having relationship issues of her own. She works a night shift so she can limit the time spent her reliable, but boring, boyfriend Michael.

The most interesting characters are those who are least tethered to reality, in this case Dave and Mary. Dave’s stress over the impending end of their relationship has led him to hallucinate a blonde-haired woman who keeps magically appearing in front of his car, forcing him into wreck after wreck. He also refuses to use the subway because he always sees a naked man, one no one else notices and one who is beginning to look more and more like him. Mary has a knack for business and has found that no one is her equal in the office, but her possible transfer and Dave’s refusal to address it is keeping her from being able to make a decision about anything, even what shoes to wear. When she finally does make a decision, one to make her more Californian in preparation for her move, it has dire consequences.

Given that they play the most complex characters in . . . Double Vision, it’s no surprise that Shane Jacobsen and Rebecca Henderson stand out. Jacobsen, who was most recently seen playing a smarmy Lothario in I’m in Love With Your Wife at the Midtown International Theater Festival, proves himself a versatile and interesting actor. His unselfconsciousness, both in regards to his nudity in the play and his character’s slow descent into madness, make him fascinating to watch. Henderson’s Mary could have easily been a two-dimensional character, an indecisive girl waiting for Dave to come through for her. Instead, Henderson shows the pain and disappointment hiding under her ball-busting exterior. Most importantly, she does an excellent job portraying Mary’s confusion and disgust of what she is becoming as her relationship crumbles.

While some of the roles, Mark in particular, seem underwritten, the cast is uniformly strong. This combined with Ari Laura Kreith’s extremely competent directing, smooth over several of the script’s bumpier moments.

. . . Double Vision is not as strong of a play as it could have been, but the strength of the acting and directing make the production enjoyable nonetheless.

Written by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich
Directed by Ari Laura Kreith
Production Stage Manager: Andrea Ghersetich
Lighting Design: Anjeanette Stokes
Set, Costume and Prop Design: Michael Wilson Morgan
Sound Design: Ben Morss

Featuring Rebecca Henderson (Mary), Shane Jacobsen (Dave), Linda Jones (Celia), Quinn Mattfeld (Mark), Christopher McCann (Ben), Sarah Silk (Michelle)

The Linhart Theater
440 Lafayette Street

Closed: Friday August 24th

UPDATE: . . . Double Vision continues to run as part of the FringeNYC Encore Series through Sept. 16 at the Bleecker St. Theatre (45 Bleecker Street). For further information visit the . . . Double Vision website.