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A CurtainUp Review
Or maybe I'm some alien creature and I'm just fundamentally not equipped to participate in this indulgent, needy, whiney, vain, overmedicated digital age where nobody can sit still for five minutes. — Sharon —
Alison Fraser (Photo: Maria Baranov)
'Tis the season to welcome the bizarre, the macabre and all plays calculated to make your skin crawl. And that is exactly what Squeamish aims to do. . . literally. But that is one of few clues I am going to reveal about the plot in this solo but multiple-character play by Aaron Mark.

I can hint at the kind of experience you will have as I remind you that Mark wrote that really creepy multi-award nominated play for solo actor Empanada Loca that starred Daphne Rubin-Vega at the Labyrinth Theatre last season. I’m still shivering from that memory. This play, as commendably directed by its author, also delves into the dark and repressed areas of human behavior, but with enough funny moments to keep you both off guard and on board.

Squeamish stars a terrific Alison Fraser as Sharon, a 50-something New York psychotherapist with major personal issues that include being a recovering alcoholic and world-class hemophobe (fear of blood.) They are troubling and all-consuming enough to send her for regular sessions to a psychiatrist and this climactic one in particular. That she can trace her overlapping phobias among other neuroses back to her childhood and to her mother’s suicide is a starter.

The play is set within the office of a psychiatrist. Sharon enters and sits, or shall I say fidgets, for the remainder of the play in a large, comfortable arm chair — think of it as cocoon. The only other furnishings we see on the very small, slightly raised platform in the center of the stage is a small table on which stands a lamp. All else is in blackness.

Svelte and attractive in a smart black dress (credit designer Michael Growler,) Fraser’s long-ish blonde hair is the one bright spot under the spooky lighting provided by set designer Sarah Johnston.

Sharon is off her meds and therefore not surprisingly a compulsive if compelling talker. She is more than just a little desperate. Sharon's story begins at her nephew’s funeral in Texas. Her complicated and purposely circuitous narrative is delivered glibly by Fraser and with more than enough mysterious detours and digressions to keep us wondering where we are being led. With her quirky, scarily quixotic performance, Fraser makes seamless transitions within her conversations and contacts with various relations, friends and even a dominatrix.

The payoff will be a stunner even, if like my companion you see where we're being taken— and even more so if, like me, you're less inclined to entertain in real life certain aspects of psychological horror as this play so deftly embraces.

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Written and directed by Aaron Mark
Cast: Alison Fraser
Scenic & Lighting Designer: Sarah Johnston
Costume Consultant: Michael Growler
Associate Lighting Designer: Sophie Talmadge Silleck
Production Stage Manager: Craig M. Ropsenthal
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes no intermission
All For One productions at the Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row
(212) 239 - 6200
Tickets: $52.50
Performances: Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 pm; Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm
From 10/06/17; opened 10/16/17; ending 11/11/17
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 10/11/17

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