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The Tangled Skirt
What is it that brings well-dressed but nervous looking Bailey Bryce (Vince Nappo) to the crummy bus depot of a small town in the middle of nowhere? One may assume that the way he clutches his suitcase, that it may contain more than a change of clothes. We can also assume that he's expecting to get on the next bus out of town. It is 12:30 am, the next bus isn't until 2 am and we sense that he is more than a little anxious. He looks about furtively but finds time to take a recording device out of his jacket pocket. He speaks into it, beginning a narrative ("I'm a story-teller. . .") possibly the one that is about to unfold.
Uh oh, who's this stunning, shapely dame with red hair who just came into the depot also gripping a suspicious looking satchel? She's Rhonda Claire (Carmit Levité), just the sort of femme fatale who makes desperate middle of the night escapes from whistle-stop towns. Bailey makes idle chit chat in an attempt to get more information from her than she clearly cares to disclose. He's brusque, she's defensive. "I'm trouble and you're trouble too, " he deduces, as Rhonda Claire attempts to keep the conversation away from the murder that was evidently committed in town earlier that evening.
The cat and mouse game is played out as Bailey appears to be reading her mind. He talks of such things as manifest destiny and how he would like to "wash this town off me." The jittery Rhonda snaps "I've been disposable longer than you have." snaps the increasingly jittery Rhonda Claire. It's flippant and insinuating dialogue like this that tumbles non-stop out of their mouths even as a kind of chemistry is being activated between them.
Braunstein, who has had a number of his plays produced regionally as well as in New York (Perched on a Gabardine Cloud had a run at Playwrights Horizons in 1976) certainly doesn't lack the conceit or the panache to keep his pot-boiler from curdling long before its conclusion. There are, to be sure, irrefutable holes in the plot and just as many infuriating lapses in logic. But who can argue with the way things progress when Rhonda Claire says, "We're just killing time in Hell."
Director Evan Bergman keeps the actors niftily confined to their one-dimensional characters. This doesn't stop Levité from making the skittishly sensual Rhonda a most provocative object of desire. Nappo, who, in his credits, makes claim to playing Richard II on a trapeze, is firmly grounded as the hard-boiled "story-teller. " The play's biggest mystery may be the title, but with a little thought on the way home I was able to decipher its meaning. Let's assume that you may also, without me give away any more of this soiree into noiree.
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