Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review - Sunday on the Rocks (Those Girls Productions)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photo courtesy of Those Girls Productions

It's probably not a good sign when you wake up early on a Sunday only to find one of your roommates on the back porch pouring herself a scotch. But a day full of liquor, gossip, dark secrets, smoking, and snack food does more than just piss off your uptight, church-going roommate. In Theresa Rebeck's Sunday on the Rocks these situations can cement and tear apart relationships, all the while shining a light on how women relate to themselves, each another and the men they date.

Elly (Marion Attal) has just found out she's pregnant. Shaken by the news, she has to decide what to do next. She has a man who loves her and wants to marry her, but this is not the life she wants for herself. On the other end of the spectrum is Jessica (Alexsandra Bailey). Uptight, moral and self-assured, what she wants most is a man who loves her and will start a family with her. Instead, she has a longtime boyfriend who seems perfectly happy with the status quo. Even though Jessica doesn't appear until Act 2, her shadow hangs over everything in this play. She chose the furniture on the back porch that Elly, Gayle (Rebecca Rose McCain), and Jen (Meagan Barno) all hate. She has rules about smoking, eating, cleaning, drinking and any other behavior that you can think of. Even when the other roommates are on their own, they are thinking about Jessica.

Gayle is sensible - the peacemaker of the group. She understands why Elly and Jessica are constantly fighting, but she tries to remain neutral. Jen is the flirt. While she doesn't mean anything by it, her flirtation with an unbalanced man and his violent reaction to it lead to the moment of reckoning between Jessica and Elly.

This inaugural production by Those Girls has several weaknesses. Among them are a certain predictability of Rebeck's script, flaccid directing by James Holland, slow pacing, and a general lack of tension on the part of the actors. Sunday on the Rocks is a play with definite highs and lows, but this production tends to take the middle road, flattening out some of the intense moments, and overplaying some of the others.

This is not to say that the show doesn't have its share of strengths as well. There is a certain silly, drunken glee in some of the early scenes that works very well. In addition, both Attal and Bailey have moments where they practically glow with anger at each other, their situations, and their lives in general. In these fleeting moments, especially when they are dealing with the frustrations of not having the lives they want, one can see what this company may be capable of in the future.

Although the production was not all that it could be, it is a decent start for a young company. They are clearly committed to bringing women's voices to the stage. Expect good things from them in the future.

Written by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by James Holland
Lighting Director: Amy Wowak
Artistic Director: Anne Attal
Graphic Design: Jay Clue
Stage Manager: Amy Wowak
House Manager: Emily Vick
Sound Designer: Nafeez Zawahir

Featuring: Marion Attal (Elly), Rebecca Rose McCain (Gayle), Meagan Barno (Jen), Alexsandra Bailey (Jessica)

The Theater at 30th Street
259 W. 30th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)

January 27th-February 8th
Tues.-Sat. at 8 PM, Sat. and Sun. at 2 PM.