Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fringe: Walls

Photo/Jordan Matters

No matter how complex the characters, coming up with convincing obstacles always seems to be what stands between a playwright and a natural drama. To his credit, Aron Ezra skips straight to the character building, dipping into the fertile territory of magical realism to manifest a literal (and symbolic) obstacle: a warm, wet, pulsing wall that has, one day, split the Pierce's "happy" home in half. As it turns out, the only way to dissolve this supernatural barrier is by tearing down the invisible walls of their hearts: that is, confessing their secrets. And this is where Ezra runs into a wall of his own: the premise is fine, but the characters end up being rather artificial. Dennis (Adam Richman) is a workaholic because he's bad at his job, and while he loves his wife, he's not attracted to her because he still mourns his dead first love (of eleven years). Naomi (Julie Jesneck) is, of course, pregnant, and because she's felt neglected by her husband's long hours, she's recently had an eleven-month affair (which adds just enough ambiguity to the baby). While the little lies that lead up to these big confessions are cute and occasionally romantic, it's pretty obvious where the big lies are leading: how could two people, married for four years, not know these basic things about one another's needs? Ezra's play is also dramatically unbalanced: both actors do good work, but Naomi is made into a sharp-tongued villain, and Dennis is, at heart, a victimized romantic. It's somewhat appropriate that the play comes together, with only minor repetition, up until the very end, but it's ultimately disappointing, too. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "A nasty, rusty, chain-link fence," and 5 being "A spotless, perfectly painted mural," Walls gets a 3.

No comments: