REVIEWS OF ALL CURRENTLY RUNNING NY SHOWS
ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
BOOKS and CDs
See links at top of our Main PageQUOTES
LETTERS TO EDITOR
FILM & TV
A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
The Substance of Bliss
It is the middle of the night and he has somehow managed to escape from his locked room. The action, or more precisely a meandering wave of unnerving discourse, takes place in real time (about eighty minutes) in the spectacularly over landscaped backyard and patio (excellent set design by Jessica Parks) of their home somewhere in suburban America. Love the miniature fairy garden.
Discovering that Jesse has trashed his room and fled prompts them to stay up to wait for his return. Worried at the thought that he may be prostituting himself to get money for drugs, they distract themselves with a torrent of chatter about unnecessary home improvements Trapped soon enough by an eventuating stream of accusatory recriminations, partially attributable to their own obsessive/compulsive and increasingly irrational behavior, they appear to end up in a psychologically induced space for self analysis and reflection. This retreat may or may not lead to a reasonable or effective resolve for their feelings of failure, but it's a start.
The Substance of Bliss. which won the L. Arnold Weissberger Award after a 2009 reading at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, is intent on testing our patience with its digressive and protracted use of exposition. This, even as it also awakens us to the clueless relationship that parents often have with a child, as if an alien had been dropped into their midst and was totally unreceptive and unresponsive to rational parenting.
As Paul, Daftsios is believable as a defensive image of psycho-sexual insecurities. As Donna, Maris effectively brings to the surface the underlying fear of her husband's rejection and of her son's rebellion.
Director Evan Bergman does a good job keeping his two players jockeying for their alternating attacks and retreats. Frustrating and unnerving as it is The Substance of Bliss , now in its world premiere engagement, still offers a modicum of substance for those also willing to accept its underlying layer of subterfuge.