Does the Body Good
nytheatre.com review by Alec G. Miller
August 13, 2007
Getting the chance to go to a FringeNYC Festival show is an experience and opportunity I always welcome. To attend one of several different performances that are staged continuously throughout the day, at a theatre I haven't been to in recent years, always makes me take a step back and realize the importance of this festival. As I sat watching the crew set up for the next show it was also clear how much energy and hard work on all levels goes into making a festival of this magnitude successful.
This year the first FringeNYC show I saw was Patrick Link's Does the Body Good. It is a one act play, roughly 50 minutes long, revolving around a milkman's sudden love for a woman he delivers to and a teacher's relationship with an adolescent student. The stage is divided in two, with the action taking place at the woman's front door on one side and in the teacher's office on the other. The play moves back and forth between the two situations in what seems like an attempt to make two seemingly unrelated circumstances mirror images of each other.
This attempt is successful, as the similarities between the woman and the teacher are evident, as well as the similarities between the milkman and student. The woman and teacher have the so-called power in their respective pseudo-relationships and at the same time their days drag on through the everyday monotony of life. The milkman and student are the optimistic ones, seeing their lives as half-full. However, the bigger concern is whether we, the audience, care about the characters involved in this split-screen "suburban fantasy."
Unfortunately, the characters are one-dimensional and the plot too easily telegraphed. There are some funny lines thrown in throughout the play, but not enough to make up for the unconvincing dialogue in this drama. Shallow and predictable banter between the characters made it difficult for me to identify with even a piece of who they were.
The woman, played by Olivia Henderson, enjoys showing men she has just met enough attention to keep them interested, only to throw them away when she's done. Except this time the milkman she hits on, played by Vince Eisenson, falls head over heels in love with her after just one kiss. He changes his entire life in the span of one day to be with a woman who gets off on toying with people.
The teacher, played by the playwright Patrick Link, hates his life and the path he's chosen for himself. His way of dealing is to show his eighth grade student the attention she desperately seeks. After sleeping with her, he is in the obviously compromising position of needing her to keep this damaging secret to herself. Ros Schwartz, who plays the student, portrays the innocence and carefree feelings of an eighth grader, and at the same time the lust that is so often mistaken for love, in a convincing way.
Some could say that these stories have potential, but the writing is too simplistic and the message too heavy-handed to be convincing. I won't divulge if she keeps the relationship a secret or not; in the end it was hard for me to still be interested in what any of these unbelievable characters chose to do.