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A CurtainUp NJ Review
We can qualify co-subjects to mean that Ms Loughran and Ms Trow, although both friends since their college days at Yale, have created two fictitious characters that have been given dramatic life out of their own mutual and lasting friendship. In their one-act-ninety minute play that spans a mere eighty-two years, the versatility and stamina of both performers are tested as is their ability, or unfortunately their inability. to make their often rather strangely disjointed experiences something to shout about.
Testing the playwrights' thesis that friendships are complicated and often fraught with issues not previously perceived as potential obstacles, the play follows the paths of Marianne (Trow) and Ellie (Loughran) over a comparative lifetime pursuing romance and careers as well as each others' approval. That's right, the characters are being played by the playwrights themselves who age from teenagers to centenarians, a challenge that is not met with any degree of credibility under the direction of Ethan Head.
An unnecessary burden has also been placed on the two modestly talented performers to make quick exits only to return as another character (a pizza delivery boy, a janitor etc.), generally of the opposite sex. It isn't a device that works efficiently and isn't amusing. During the course of the play, they do a little tap dancing and singing and then change costumes behind screens to return more matured over the years in their 20s and on to their mid 50s then at 100 pushing walkers.
So what is it that we learn about Marianne and Ellie that makes us either care or bring validation to their friendship? What perspectives and motivations are revealed that define their eventually unraveled relationship? This is where the play trips itself up and fails to bring us either satisfying insights into each woman's character or the more disquieting truths about the real reasons for their bond. At the start we learn Marianne has money to burn and is eager to spend it on Ellie who has none and has applied for a $135,000 college loan.
After graduation Marianne pays the bulk of the cost for the Greenwich Village duplex with a doorman, then takes off for graduate work at Stanford. A few years later she books a honeymoon suite for the two of them at a Hawaiian Resort prior to her marrying a man she has been dating for seven years but hates having sex with. The rift comes when Marianne writes a scientifically researched book about friendship and a study of monkeys questioning its value and using her relationship with Ellie as an example. Ellie feels betrayed with its publication. Do they reconcile? Mmmm.
Jessica Park's scenic design allows a collection of oddly shaped wooden furnishings to be, like its inhabitants, in a state of perpetual flux as the scene changes to different venues.
The real question that this play poses is whether true friendships can survive manipulation for personal gain. And then how much do we give up of ourselves when we become unwittingly beholden to another? These questions however, are posed too late to save this quirky and much too self-serving comedy. I presume that the play's title alludes to friendship and not to a branch of the string theory.
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F Theory by Megan Loughran and Alex Trow
Directed by Ethan Heard
Cast: Alex Trow (Marianne), Megan Loughran (Ellie), Pheonix Vaughn (as Marianne (Sept. 15 - 17)
Stage Manager: Kristin Pfeifer
Scenic Design: Jessica Parks
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Sound Design: Merek Royce Press
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Choreographer: Eamon Foley
Running Time: 90 minutes no intermission
New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, N.J.
(732) 229 - 3166 or www.njrep.org
Performances: Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm.
From 08/17/17 Opened 08/19/17 Ends 09/24/17
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 08/19/17
NJ Theatre Alliance
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