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A CurtainUp Review
A Raw Space
'Simple, warm, effortless.' How the hell can I compete?— Architect Rod Menin
A Raw Space
Jack Koenig and Madi Distefano
in A Raw Space
(Photo credit: BRT Staff)
A Raw Space by Jon Marans is in World Premiere at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Iím sad to report that it disappoints. Itís almost as if the playwright sent in extensive notes on what he wants to accomplish on stage rather than pull together the actual finished play.

An architectís wealthy wife sets up a competition between her husband and another architect who is married to her former friend. She challenges the men to come up with an apartment design thatís simple, warm and effortless. These are qualities that this complicated, cold and labored play could surely use.

While its predecessors, Old Wicked Songs and The Temperamentals, had much to recommend them, A Raw Space is a mostly nasty little piece. Itís hard to warm up to these characters, and the few parts that are meant to make them more appealing come off as plot contrivances.

A clever twist on point-of-view comes at the cost of a long time spent on a real-time replay. Two scenes often occupy the same space at the same time. A useful tactic when thereís too little to do on stage in each discrete scene, it looks gratuitous. And while the very attractive and well executed set design is the star of this show, itís odd when a projected vast city view from the large apartment window randomly appears and disappears.

The underlying analogy, "the elegant interplay between architectural design and the architecture of a marriage": is not left intriguingly tacit. In fact, the idea that whatís left unsaid can speak as loudly as whatís verbalized gets no play here. Rather, the subtextual armature is laid out in detail, like in a soap opera, in case anyone misses the parallels.

Finally, this structure implodes as the actors fail to click. Keith Bakerís mannered acting style doesnít work with Anette Michelle Sandersí attempt at a more naturalistic approach to her role as his indulged bossy wife. Not much can be done with the cumbersome dialogue that Madi Distefano as the not-friend, and Jack Koenig as Rod, the hot competing architect have to handle. .

Although Iíd like to pull some punches for BRT, I canít say this play succeeds at being witty, cathartic, or effective. A Raw Space needs to go back to the drafting table.

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A Raw Space by Jon Marans
Directed by Susan Atkinson


Cast: Keith Baker, Madi Distefano, Jack Koenig, Anette Michelle Sanders
Scenic Design: roman Tatarowicz
Lighting Design: Ryan OíGara
Costume Design: Linda Bee Stockton
Sound Design: Adam Orseck
Jan 31- Feb 19, Opening Feb 2, 2012
90 minutes with one 15 minute intermission
Reviewed by Kathryn Osenlund based on 02/02 performance. Bristol Riverside Theatre, Radcliffe St. Bristol, PA >
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