Around The Block
nytheatre.com review by Heather McAllister
January 15, 2010
Nelson Diaz-Marcano has put together a one-act with some fellow Stony Brook University classmates, and their classroom bond is strikingly evident in his Around the Block, directed by Dan De Jesus, in which Diaz stars with Danielle Guidi.
These very likeable actors share an extreme level of comfort and ease with each other, I felt a kinship to them, as if we were in a very supportive acting class together.
However, although the actors are honest, fearless, and obviously connected to each other, unfortunately the characters they portray are quite shallow and unlikable. Watching them, I felt uncomfortable, as if I were overhearing a raunchy private conversation, comprised solely of in-jokes and "you had to be there" moments from two insecure, borderline mean-spirited people seeking a public place to hash out the remnants of their relationship in order to avoid any real intimacy.
The one-act reminded me not so much of a play, but of a long conversation, and the conversation reminded me not so much of a cohesive story progressing forward toward a revelation, but rather of a loud girl and a mumbling boy dancing around each other and their feelings, performing and posing for each other and any passersby within range on a random street corner.
Guidi's Carla randomly breaks into cheerleading routine/hip hop moves, flits from thought to thought, and continuously mocks and disparages her suitor. Diaz's Leo speaks unclearly, postures, laughingly and graphically insults the other women he's been with, and insists Guidi loves him. I really didn't find anyone to root for.
There is no set, or costume to note. No sound or lighting either.
The torturous pull of a love triangle, the possibility of rekindling a lost love, the overwhelming realization that unless you act right now, this very second, you may let your soulmate slip away—these are incredibly dramatic, life-changing moments that deserve more than random snippets of "real dialogue" from characters who seemingly have no idea what love is. Love is the all-conquering power, and deserves to have that respect shown.