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Finger Paint

nytheatre.com review by Heather Lee Rogers
August 16, 2009

Finger Paint is a sex-filled, messy romp in paint. The story begins when Ann meets the fascinating finger paint artist Ryan and is so eager to connect with him that she ends up inviting him to share her apartment. Together they embark on a "roommate project" to paint a wall together. The wall becomes a living graffiti expression of the friendship, attraction, jealousy, and increasing complexity of their relationship. Each mark, shape, and streak on their wall is symbolic of some feeling or story of their life in the apartment together. Also present in the collage of this play is Jacob (Ann's true-blue, cautious boyfriend) and an endless series of crazy women that pass through Ryan's sex life. These women (who Ryan uses and then discards like paint rags) are all played hilariously by Ariana Shore. The fifth character in the play is the wall itself, a beautiful work of art by Rachel Senchoway. The floor of the stage is a drop cloth which is useful because whenever Ann or Ryan get inspired they dunk their fists into a jar of squishy paint. Also onstage is an old paint-stained couch which is used for a myriad of sexual encounters. This play is messy, carnal, funny, and emotionally complicated.

The writing (a joint effort by Erin Austin, who plays Ann, and the director, Ross Evans) is daring in its creativity. The order of scenes jumps around in chronology. The language of the play flows in and out of different styles. Sometimes the dialogue is in lines of poetry, like words and ideas dropped on a canvas in almost musical answer to each other but devoid of traditional sentence structure. Sometimes conversations run like a stream in a familiar, straightforward, contemporary way. Other times lines are ammunition, shot from one actor to another—words and ideas of one individual character's experience blasted across the stage at another, where the effect is more like poetic juxtaposition and less like traditional conversation. I enjoyed this approach to the dialogue and thought it highly appropriate in a play which features spontaneously created artwork as a central preoccupation.

The ensemble: Austin, Shore, Nick Coby as Ryan, and Anthony Comis as Jacob all deliver strong work individually and work together extremely well. The unique and inventive style of the production is excellently delivered by Evans. I really enjoyed this production and it made me want to go get crazy with some paint!