nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
July 17, 2006
The Midtown International Theatre Festival is here! AfterWords, the umbrella title covering a trio of one-act plays, weaves the theme of loss through all three with different results and varying degrees of success. But, together they make an interesting evening of theatre.
In Cheesequake Revelations, a comedy by Marcus Davidson, we get a leather-clad biker showing off his favorite restaurant to his new girlfriend, Mandy. She is more than impressed; she is awestruck with wonder by the place, by him, by his every word. Then we learn they are at a rest stop off the Garden State Parkway, that all the waitresses have red hair just like Mandy, and that Sweetie knows all of them. It is not difficult to figure out early on where Mandy will end up; it is the journey that is important. Unfortunately, Davidson writes his characters into a fix and the solution is so improbable that the lines become "groaners." In her over-the-top eagerness, Andi Teran brings humor and even some pathos to Mandy, which adds a little depth to what could be a cardboard character. Scott Lovelady performs admirably as Sweetie, and wears the tight leather pants the way they should be worn. Gary Shrader directs, but leaves the characters unaffected by the journey. If you remember that these are characters you are not supposed to relate to, then the deus ex machina doesn't matter.
Playwright Edward Musto gives us an intriguing script in Shutterbug. David Lapkin spins a story about his character's passion for photojournalism, and his penchant for capturing that moment—a moment so horrible that his pictures alienate everyone including his co-workers. One day, he meets a woman who is unaffected by the horror, and it is the photographer's response to her emergency that makes the audience remember why his co-workers shunned him. In an effort to show the detachment of a journalist, Lapkin delivers a flat performance, but perhaps that is the way director Erin Cronican wants it. At the end, both Cronican and Lapkin had a marvelous opportunity to dramatically demonstrate this passion and the character's loss, but, alas, the moment passed—uneventfully.
The most accomplished play is Dena Douglass's meaty A Transitory Feast. A handsome man finds his disheveled sister passed out on the living room sofa on New Year's Eve. They are a close pair, but something has upset the balance. Douglass and director Michael Mastro are initially slow—too slow—in pointing out what that might be, but once they do, Adam McLaughlin and Melinda Wade, who play the siblings, do a marvelous job of roping in the audience and revealing details of their tragedy that are both surprising and believable. The chemistry is very good between the two, and McLaughlin offers patient support as the loving brother. Wade is absolutely terrific as the grieving character. Small, inadvertent gestures deliver such as flicking her fingers while ravenously eating Wheaties show she is healing. Adrienne Willis deserves special mention for designing the beautiful lighting.