nytheatre.com review by Case Aiken
May 31, 2012
I was excited to see 36 Hours, a new show written by Amy E. Witting and directed by Bricken Sparacino, which is playing at The Red Room. The show depicts a brief interaction between two former lovers who are finally reunited after years apart, allowing them to see how time has worn away at them and giving them a peek into the life that they might have had if things had gone differently between them. There are shades of Same Time, Next Year in 36 Hours, but the focus is on one specific moment and the ripples in time it had on two people who went their own disparate ways. Sadly, the show doesn’t quite live up to the potential that the premise would afford.
The play opens with Patrick anxiously waiting for the sound of the running shower to end so that he can renew his relations with the bathing Annie, only before she can come out he discovers a wedding ring amongst her belongings. He confronts her about the matter and she admits to being engaged, to which he offers that he is seeing someone as well. The two exchange quips about the state of their relationships before Patrick points out that while it’s nine in the morning for him, it’s only 4am for Annie and that she should get some sleep. She finally accepts and lies down while Patrick watches a French film. After each bout of rest, Annie awakens and offers more information about why she agreed to meet with Patrick again after so many years. This surprised me, as the relationship had seemed to be more recurring when first established, but it becomes clear that the two have only met once before. They discuss how important that one 36-hour encounter was, however, and then dwell on the tragedies that have made them both somewhat broken souls. Finally, after more sleeping breaks, Patrick searches through Annie’s bag and discovers that she had attempted suicide and plans to attempt it again. Obviously this doesn’t sit well with Patrick and drama ensues.
Overall I found that I enjoyed the show, but the tone slowly changes over the course of the piece from light and comical with really snappy dialogue into an analysis of the driving forces of depression. While by no means a bad play, 36 Hours feels like its concept and point have differing origins, resulting in a show that sets itself up at first as an exploration of change over time but turns into one that dissects one particular incident from the past. The style of the piece shifts over the course of the play and it ends in a much darker place then where it began. That isn’t to say that what transpires isn’t interesting: the relationship between Patrick and Annie shifts from a casual pair of lovers to a paternal one, with Patrick taking on fatherly qualities that he almost forgot he had when he comforts Annie. Michael Birch and Kerry Fitzgibbons do an excellent job with their roles and some of the challenging transformations that they go through. In a piece like this, it is the strength of the performances that hold it up and fortunately those in the show do an excellent job of carrying 36 Hours.