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A CurtainUp DC Review
The title of the three-character play (performed by two actors) refers to a god-forsaken place in Iraq where a soldier named Craig has died. His identical twin brother Peter, an actor, is alive and well. He’s egocentric, gay, self-destructive and, ironically, performing in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Craig’s widow, Kelly, a psychologist, completes the triangle.
All three characters are dealing with the real or perceived slights of childhood. Daniel Conway’s set for Kelly’s New York apartment, with a kitchen on one side of the living room and, on the other, two doors, through which Craig goes out and Peter comes in – and vice versa.
Thomas Keegan, the actor who plays both Peter and Craig, is an imposing figure. Very tall and with a booming voice, he exudes physical power as the husband and vulnerability as the actor. A graduate of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting, Keegan is a welcome addition to Washington stages. I look forward to seeing more of his work in a script worthy of his talent.
Rachel Zampelli as Kelly, the grieving widow who is trying to literally move on, is strangely unaffecting. She should be a sympathetic character; instead, she comes over, for most of the play, as emotionally numb.
Director Matthew Gardiner steers his actors through flashbacks and the script which covers among other topics: a death that isn’t what it seems. . . 9/11. . . grief. . . post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological theories. . . famous authors. . . how obsessions with food have replaced sex. . . having a baby. . . gay sex. . . the truth, provided via e-mail messages from brother to brother prior to the soldier’s death in Iraq.
Stir the one-liners and 65 minutes later the play ends, having made its revelations with some confusion and not much depth. There’s even a reference to the formula for scripts written for Law and Order. Maybe Shinn’s writing really belongs on television — a medium better suited to drama that has less use for plot and characterization — than live theater.
Editor's Note: While I was somewhat more enthusiastic about the original, longer, version of the play, I too wasn't totally smitten. To read that review which also contains links to other Shinn plays Curtainup has reviewed go here.