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A CurtainUp Review
By Nicole Watson
When the play opens, we discover that Abby is pregnant. This is not welcome news for Stu and so the problems begin—or continue. As more is discovered about Abby and Stu's relationship, it becomes clear that this * unwanted pregnancy is just the most recent problem in their relationship. Their inability to communicate leads them to write notes to one another. Eventually these too, dissolve into a litany of scribbled "fuck you's."
Stu and Abby fight about their inability to communicate. They fight about having a child, though they both agree that bringing a child into such a volatile situation would be a mistake. Really all Stu and Abby do is fight about fighting and drive one another crazy, and making the audience wonder What is the point?
Playwright Anthony Neilson offers a cold and frank look at love or, in this case, its absence. While the production has a raw quality that should be unnerving it fails to move.
There is very little chemistry between Meital Dohan and Gian Murray Gianino who play Abby and Stu. As a result, one wonders why the couple spends the entire play trying to stay together when it seems evident from the beginning that they are not meant for one another. Either they are screaming at one another or they are sitting in silence.
Neilson's writing is compelling in places, but for the most part the dialogue is pedestrian and hardly shocking. Eventually one discovers why the couple is engaged in such dangerous role-play, (Abby pretends to be a young school girl involved in the world's oldest profession and Stu is her overly aggressive John). Acting out their sexual fantasies provides only a brief escape from the reality of their situation. The set, a boxy apartment designed by Garin Marshall, gives the impression that the young couple is trapped, with the apartment becoming more a cage than a home.
Under Timothy Haskell's direction, the sense of a relationship that seems to be on the verge of exploding, is never realized. The play is stretched out to 75 minutes by continual on stage costume changes which take place right outside the apartment door. The failure of the play to evoke the sense of something dangerously and dreadfully wrong suggested by the dialogue is underscored by the haunting music composed by Daron Murphy. It suggests deep tragedy and seems misplaced in this completely unfeeling, unsentimental production.
Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, Abby and Stu's relationship is beyond repair. At the end of it all it would seem that Abby and Stu can't see see the fine line between pleasure and pain. Unable to tell the difference they stay in a relationship that hurts so good.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide