Photo by Don Kellogg

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mouth to Mouth

Kevin Elyot's new work at The Acorn Theatre is jam packed with raw emotion and intentionally unanswered questions.  The play opens up at the end.  South London suburb.  Present.  Frank and Laura (David Cale and Lisa Emery) in a very one sided melancholy scene.  Frank clearly wants to tell Laura something. Laura is clearly upset by something.  Rewind.   Frank and his doctor, Gompertz (Andrew Polk) discuss Frank's unspoken illness and his desire to reveal a secret.  Comic relief indeed.  Rewind.  Frank, Laura, Roger (Darren Goldstein) , Cornelia (Elizabeth Jasicki) and Philip (Christopher Abbott) and Dennis (Richard Topol) - a family affair of sorts, an uncomfortable dinner party, and  a "shocking" revelation by Philip, the 15 year old son recently returned from Spain abruptly end the dinner plans.  Continuing forward - we learn of yet another shocking secret between Philip and Frank.  Fast Forward back to the opening scene. Can Frank bring himself to tell Laura what he wanted to say?  Is what he wants to say going to being solace to Laura in any way?  Is he somehow at fault?

If this was at all confusing - I don't mean it to be.  It should be very clear to even the most inattentive theatergoer what's going on.   The unspoken.  Secrets.  Untold facts.  Who is really talking to whom in life?  Do we see what is going on or do we just see what we want?   Clearly  Kevin Elyot has a firm opinion on this.   Mouth to Mouth is both a figurative title (whether my mouth or yours, words sometimes flow and sometimes don't - and we often don't want to listen to what we hear) as well
 as a physical meaning in this plot - It seems that (among other frolicking that followed) Frank saved Philip from drowning at the lake by giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation.  

Outstanding performances by Lisa Emery (Laura) and David Cale (Frank).  The sheer innocence of Christopher Abbott (Philip) is priceless, genuine, and brilliantly captured by Director, Mark Browkaw.  Brilliant subtleties, such as a Philip emerging in his first scene shirtless tantalizes the audience and offers up the question of his sexuality.  Laura scolds her son for smoking in a photograph.   And yet the opening and closing scene we find her indulging.  Never spoken.  Did we hear a passing comment about when Laura and Roger met so long ago?  It rings in our ears in the penultimate scene between them again.

Bravo, New Group.   A fine evening of theatre, indeed.