nytheatre.com review by Soline McLain
Advertised as the only show with a Christian theme in this year’s
FringeNYC Festival, Discordant Duets opened with a powerful
series of chords at the La Tea Theatre this evening. The mission
statement of the production company, Narrow Journey, declares that they
"strive to turn upside down the erroneous stereotypes that Christian
theatre consists only of pageants illustrating the life of Moses or
abstract depictions of Good and Evil." With Discordant Duets,
they have certainly achieved success. I was not really sure what to
expect upon entering the theatre this evening. As a person who considers
herself more "spiritual" than "religious," I was a little worried that
the play was going to be preachy.
August 15, 2003
Instead, the piece focuses on the relationships between two different couples, Mariselle paired with Mike and Dailey in love with Rick, after they first meet and then begin to live with each other. When things begin to fall apart, the women of each relationship seek therapy. While Dailey sees a conventional therapist who tells her that it might be worse for her to stay with Rick through the rough times, by a mere accident Mariselle sees a Christian therapist who encourages her to continue her relationship with Mike and to try to work things out. Though both couples struggle, the play shows that faith in the strength of God can help lead us through hard times.
Maria Bellantoni (as Mariselle) and Michael Leonard James (as her boyfriend Mike) are both strong actors who not only bring smiles to the audiences’ faces, but they also bring a sense of hope. As the struggling couple Dailey and Rick, Liza St. John and John Krisiukenas both convey such a sense of reality to their roles that their relationship truly turns from amusing and pleasant to horrifying and sorrowful. Under the guidance of director Mark Bruner, the four principals are supported by a strong ensemble cast who play friends of the couples through the "thin" and, sometimes, "thick" parts of relationships.
Written by Mark and Michelle Bruner (also the artistic and managing director, respectively, of Narrow Journey Productions), Discordant Duets is a lovely crescendo of a play that is both thoughtful and inspirational.