By Judd Hollander
Photos by Gerry Goodstein
Photos by Gerry Goodstein
Instinct is a play with a lot of potential but sadly ends up feeling like a speed read through an epidemiology text, with playwright Matthew Maguire trying to hit way too many targets in this 85-minute work.
Instinct might be a very interesting play if only Maguire wasn't trying to shoehorn in quite so much information, as well as not going far enough with the material he does include. It would have been more interesting for example, if Mara was more devoutly religious than she initially implies. In addition, this particular story thread is quickly dropped and never mentioned again, so one wonders why bring it up at all. Another problem is that the text makes too much use of technical jargon with not enough emphasis on the human factor. It's as if the performers were reading from a medical paper rather than presenting a play. It also might have worked better if Maguire had picked another virus than SARS, the subject of which has already been extensively covered, and used a disease with a bit more mystery to it.
Direction by Michael Kimmel is only so-so, his efforts pretty much suffocated by the excess and at times cloying dialogue. Not to mention a storyline that needs to move faster and be laced with more emotional impact. The cast tries their best but with so many diverse elements to cover, none of the characters really resonate and so it's difficult to care about their situations. The playwright also has a habit of dealing with absolutes in the story, such as with Mara and Daniel's arguments regarding having a baby, rather than looking at more open-ended possibilities. The set by Ben Kato is adequate, though his lighting effects used when the different cast members continually announce the latest status of the epidemic start to feel repetitious rather quickly.
Sad to say, there's not much to recommend in Instinct, a case where the playwright's own convictions and judgment seems to have failed him.
Featuring Kim Blair (Mara Carracci), Jeffrey Withers (Daniel Kempe), Maggie Bofill (
Makarova), Amirah Vann (Fermina Santos). Lydia
Set and Light Design: Ben Kato
Costume Design: Christina Bullard
Music by Andrew Ingkavet
Stage Manager: Christine D'Amore
Associate Costume Design: Nina Bova
Technical Director; John Ralston
Assistant Stage manager; Michelle Heller
House Manager: Kathleen Longazel
Press Representation: O&M Co.
Presented by Creation Production Company
Theatre Rows Studios
Tickets: 212-239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
Running Time: 85 Minutes
February 4, 2012