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A CurtainUp Review
Set in present-day Boston in summer, the story revolves around a young couple in love, Allison and Mark; also how Allison's best friend Lauren is set on derailing their budding relationship. Lauren feels that Allison is too good for Mark, and that she's wasting her time dating him. But who can argue with Cupid's arrows? Moreover, the trio have been invited to several engagement parties of their friends. And they all are glamorous events, like three-dimensional pictures from Brides magazine.
This Eden-like aura darkens when Lauren gets tipsy at one of the engagement parties and has sex with Allison's boyfriend Mark in a gazebo. The distraught, Lauren doesn't know what to do about her drunken indiscretion. Should she tell Allison about her one-night fling with her boyfriend? Should she spare Allison the heartache and simply remain silent?
The play comes off, largely because of the creative acting and directing. Jennifer Kim plays Allison with impeccable manners and zest. Michael Stahl-David infuses the egomaniac Mark with arrogance to the nth degree. Ana Nogueira is perfect as the snobby Lauren, a Ph.D. candidate in Victorian studies who forgets that pride goes before a fall.
Rounding out the ensemble are Brooke Weisman as Lauren's spunky younger cousin, and Omar Maskati as her brainy boyfriend Ryan, a first-year Ph.D. candidate in comp lit. Their late in the paly arrival adds energy and psychological depth to the goings-on.
Kimberly Senior, who helms this production, knows how to move things along, and executes seamless transitions from one scene to the next. Wilson Chin's inventive set conjures up the al fresco atmosphere of a posh garden party with a few strategic props, abetted by Jen Schriever's glowy lighting. Beth Goldenberg's costumes are an array of the chic, the debonair and the frumpy. Allison, Mark, and Lauren are dressed to the nines. Catherine and Ryan are intentionally dressed down, with Catherine wearing a giant medical boot on one foot, a striking contrast to her cousin Lauren's elegant footwear.
Engagements made its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in August 2015 (review ). This New York mounting is excellent. By all means, go with a date, or go alone to this provocative play that takes a non-sentimental look at the traditional rite of getting engaged.
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Engagements by Lucy Teitler
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Cast: Jennifer Kim (Allison), Omar Maskati (Ryan), Ana Nogueira (Lauren), Michael Stahl-David (Mark) and Brooke Weisman (Catherine).
Sets: Wilson Chin
Costumes: Beth Goldenberg
Sound: Ryan Rumery
Lighting: Jen Schriever
Stage Manager: Kristi Hess
Second Stage Theatre Uptown at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, at 2162 Broadway at 76th Street, 3rd Floor. Tickets: $39. For tickets and more information, phone (212)-246-4422 or go online at www.2st.com
From 7/18/16; opening 8/4/16; closing 8/20/16.
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on press performance of 8/1/16
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