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A CurtainUp Review
Ostensibly it is a play about the decision to have a baby or not, during which the characters explore the trepidations of growing up and facing human shortcomings and failures from which they feel exempt. Yet, this couple must confront the pain of moving on once the prop of protective parents and endless years cocooned in a university fade away. What next?
Locked in mortal combat, they debate, dance and wrestle on a bare white, starkly lit, strikingly wrought set by Luciana Stecconi in a timeless couple's duet. They maintain that this is the worst of all times to bring a child into the world already crippled by over-population and global uncertainty as this generation faces ecological threats.
Obviously, they have never heard of the Black Death orThirty Years War or any of the other truly terrible times when humans confronted terrifying events. This is the first era, however, where most people have had choices in their reproductive decisions. This couple is the product of a privileged society able to pursue private interests (M is a musician, W is a PHD candidate.) They are hyper aware of the world and its dangers thanks to instant global communications, while at the same time enjoying the exhilaration of an actual choice in making life-altering decisions.
Their mental gymnastics and “over-think” sometimes makes us question the real hell we face. Instead of the external threats of nuclear annihilation or global warming, could it be the endless torture of self-doubt and second-guessing that plagues these two over-intellectualized, self-absorbed neurotics? The white hot lighting by Zach Blane allow us to examine this behavior in chilling, sometimes seat squirming recognition.
Bloom as W is at times poignant. She can also be maddening as she spews forth dizzying harangues, rants and tears at the sometimes hapless M who admits he is mesmerized by her brutal honesty and passion.
King's M 's visceral responses to his partner and his world act as the catalyst for this entire conversation. In comparison to W's double speak, his clumsy attempts to be a “good person” and to express his deep emotional attachment are both comical and touching.
M is the one who has opened this “conversation” about “the baby”while standing in line at Ikea, the great maze-like store that traps its hapless customers into wandering through nonlinear mass consumer product presentations to indeterminate destinations. Like the fragmented dialogue, and life itself, this couple has embarked on a journey whose every choice can only lead to another series of choices that may be as mundane or unpredictable as all of human existence. They want assurances of an exceptional life. We nod in pitying recognition.
This almost perfect, biting comedy is a tour de force by the actors, directed seamlessly by Aaron Posner where silences and subtext wash over the audience in waves of familiarity and discomfort.
The last few minutes project an unnecessary trip to the future, but the audience would be better served if the play ended as the couple takes an irrevocable path. Like the rest of humanity they will have to play out that choice to an undeterminable future. The audience can fill in the blanks. Welcome to Life!
Editor's Note: This is the Berkshire premier of this two hander. To read our DC critic's review, with the same actors playing the questioning couple go here.
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