Psalms of a Questionable Nature
nytheatre.com review by Zachary Fithian
August 17, 2008
Marisa Wegryzn's Psalms of a Questionable Nature taps into that certain kind of paranoia that tells you that no one, not even family, can truly be trusted. While perhaps true, it's a cynical and depressing world in which even Ma and Pa may not be what they seem. Coupled with writing that leads to the questionable nature of some character decisions, Psalms is at best confusing, and at worst an exercise in audience patience.
The play opens in the basement of the house in the middle of nowhere. (This is appropriate, seeing as how the theatre was downstairs, coupled with an all-too-realistic lack of lighting.) We learn that a woman, Greta, is here to tidy up the house of her recently-deceased mother. The house, unfortunately, comes complete with a crazy younger stepsister named Moo and a basement full of secrets.
The relationship between Greta and Moo is fundamentally believable, and they even spend enough time together to develop an odd sort of rapport before all the nastiness is unearthed. But there are moments, particularly in the midst of an argument, where either or both women seem to completely change their minds without any particular reason. They are often small decisions in small moments, but the combination of such moments makes the play increasingly harder to follow. Many questions are raised that never seem to be answered, which makes for a confusing 90 minutes.
The show is, however, not without its strong points. Both Carrie Heitman and Emily Kunkel do the best they can with the material they are given. Heitman is wonderfully Type-A as Greta, a woman who carries a holier-than-thou air even though she is not without her own checkered past. She could not be more different than Kunkel's Moo, who is endearing despite her oddities, which include an aversion to showering. They seem, through their acting at least, to have a genuine affinity for each other.
At the beginning of the show I had high hopes; it seemed as if we could have had a sort of Topdog/Underdog on our hands, but Psalms, though it has its moments, doesn't quite have the fierce dialogue that is necessary to carry a two-person play.