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Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
by Ariana Mufson
Mark Goffman's Me Too, premiering at the Stella Adler Theatre, touches on themes of love, hope and tragedy, but never quite achieves a balance therein. Despite the oft repeated statistic regarding the power of love to heal, Me Too ends up raising unanswered questions and keeps us distanced from its most intimate moments.
The play centers around Andrew (Jeremy Glazer) and his quest for love. His friend Geoff (Greg Pitts) generously offers to help by using the online networking tool Myspace.com, and showing him a few profiles of eligible women. Of course Andrew the romantic falls for the first girl he sees--Lucy (Danica McKellar)--and arranges a face to face meeting. Although the two hit it off, Lucy's revelation that she has been diagnosed with cancer leaves Andrew trying to figure out how to pursue a relationship with a dying woman and hoping that perhaps his love can keep her alive.
Goffman infuses humor into his text and tries to turn a dark situation into one filled with hope, but the set and blocking create problems for the actors. With most of the scenes taking place in small rooms, it feels as if the characters want to be walking and talking, instead of being stuck on flat planes, with barely any space to move. And although this mirrors the theme of being trapped by disease, it does not work with the overarching message of the freeing and liberating power of love. As such, the staging actually works against Goffman's ultimate goal. There's also a problem with the pace. Goffman's writing has a rhythm, much like Aaron Sorkin with whom he has worked on The West Wing (NBC) and the upcoming Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC). Unfortunately, in Me Too the witty back and forth banter feels slow and forced. Moments of quick repartee are filled with unnecessary pauses.
There are times when the script does bring out the best in the actors and the show; for instance, when Andrew and Geoff discuss Andrew's wish to be out of the dating scene Andrew laments: "I'm not a kid anymore. I just want to be done with it already." Geoff sardonically retorts, "There's only one way to be done with it . . . Death." Not only do we laugh along with Geoff but we feel the deeper implication that pain is inherent to love, just as it is part of life.
Unfortunately, this interchange also makes Andrew come off as tedious, falling in and out of love on a whim. In fact, Andrew and Lucy seem to be Goffman's attempt at a Romeo and Juliet duo. Like Romeo, Andrew begins the play already in love with someone else, a girl who disappears the moment he lays eyes on Lucy (or her picture on Myspace.com as the case may be). But because of Andrew's fickle nature, when he falls for Lucy we can't help but wonder if he's going to hurt her. As we watch their relationship grow, we know it is based on a lie and suspect it is doomed.
Even as the play strives to deliver a hopeful message it's hard to watch Andrew struggle with Lucy's disease. We never quite know whether he will ever mature to truly love Lucy. Furthermore, because we are only given one scene to get to know Lucy, it's hard for us to know what she's really like. The chemistry between McKellar and Glazer doesn't spark, and we're left with little to convince us that the two are even close to Shakespeare's star crossed lovers. Most importantly, the Bard's play revels in its romantic notions without questioning them, whereas Me Too constantly doubts its own core themes, leaving us wondering what to believe about love and its ability to heal.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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