6 Seconds in Charlack
nytheatre.com review by Brad Lee Thomason
August 23, 2009
When talking about art—let's say a painting or a book—people often use the term "inspired" to describe the work. However, the art itself is just an object, and is only the result of inspiration. What is actually inspired is the artist; so theoretically, if Michelangelo could paint the Sistine Chapel once, there is absolutely no reason to think he wouldn't be able to do it again.
This is the message of 6 Seconds in Charlack, and it is driven home very effectively in a clever and elegantly constructed story by playwright Brian Golden, along with lively and imaginative staging from director Patrick Mills. The play introduces us to the character of Bard (and yes, he is a writer) who is torn between two lovers and at a crossroads in his professional career. On one hand, his life seems to be all laid out for him with a promising law career and a budding relationship with his loving girlfriend, the conservative and achingly practical Penny. However, Bard still has a passion for his first career, writing; as well as a mysterious history with the intoxicating and free-spirited Candy, a past lover who keeps, well, how shall I put this—popping up at the wrong times?
Andy Wagner does an adequate job as Bard but he is not always convincing; and I found myself wanting to see more of a contrast in his personality between the erudite lawyer that he is at present and the more carefree writer that must have won over a woman like Candy in the past. Fortunately he is flanked by two outstanding female actors who really help this play take off. Allison Walton is charming and often quite hilarious as the straitlaced and slightly neurotic Penny, and Christina Dogrell is heartbreakingly compelling in the role of the independent and provocatively arresting Candy. The contrasts between these two women are highlighted effectively through Michele Reisch's costume design, and the uncredited set design allows for some very dynamic and playful action.
An almost constant undercurrent of live acoustic guitar is a very nice touch and weaves the whole story together. The guitarist is Ned Cray who pulls double duty: he also plays several characters throughout, the most important of which is an affable typewriter repairman named Scoop. Being a writer, Bard has a special affection for old typewriters and volunteers in Scoop's shop, and throughout the play vintage typewriters surround the stage, bringing a tight focus on what this play really seems to be about: should Bard live the life that is expected and pursue a stable career with the white picket fences and two and a half children that come with it, or does he abandon all of that to fly off into the unknown and try to live his dream of being a writer? As Candy points out, he was a lot more fun when he was writing.
So back to the Sistine Chapel, and whether or not Michelangelo could paint it again. Or let's talk of lightning, and whether or not it can strike in the same place twice. Or we can discuss true love, which Penny vehemently asserts can't happen more than once. She's wrong. The truth is lightning can strike twice; true love can be found again, and yes, the Sistine Chapel could be repainted and be just as glorious and beautiful as it was before.
It just wouldn't be exactly the same.