Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Upfront I will recognize the fine performances by all the actors - Mark Blum, Tom Lipinski, Michael Stahl-David, Liz Stauber, and even Donna Hanover too!   The fine acting notwithstanding - the playwright, Christopher Shinn, has a creative failure on his hands.

The plot sold on the Vineyard Theatre website sounds enticing, but it never develops.  For two acts over two hours all you get is a frustrating tease.  Will it go in this direction? (No.) Will it go in that direction? (No again.)  Is the obvious homo-erotic tension between the two actors going anywhere?  (Nope.)  The brain scan stuff had great potential.  As with much, it was introduced but we never saw the results of it - i.e. the movie-within-the-play.  (Teased again.).  The actors seem to make substantial life-decisions yet we never really understand where they come from or a complete context.  Contradiction after contradiction; Dead end after dead end.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that Mr. Shinn was going for the ethereal, the psychological, the intangible questions about why we get "picked" and how "getting picked" affects our perception of ourselves as well as how others perceive us and how that affects us and the effects of the constant over-analysis of "why".  Yes, I get that and see where it could have fit in your play.  Main problem being - you didn't translate that into a discrete, linear, comprehensible plot.

The actors, despite all this mismatched, undeveloped work deserved a hearty round of applause.  I think they were as confused as the entire audience as to why they were there.  I found myself speaking with about 6 different theater-going couples out front of the theatre and not one of us had a good word to say.   Why on earth did the Vineyard present this play was the question of the hour.  That, too, like many of our questions about the play, remains unanswered.  If you have options, don't pick this one.