Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dream of Me

Not even Chuck Mee can consistently imitate Chuck Mee, so it's a bit odd to see an under-30 company, Mainspring Collective, trying to riff on his play Fetes de la Nuit. The result, Alexandria LaPorte's Dream of Me, is an undeniably confused show, and while director Hillary Krishnan isn't afraid to plunge into that madness, she isn't always able to bring the actors with her (which might explain why the two prerecorded segments go on and on). It's easy, in other words, for her to stage the endless distractions that clusterfuck life and love, to create worlds in which characters can walk downstage center and proclaim "I'm lost." It's harder to show the stillness of a missed connection on a crowded subway, the intimacy of a role-played love affair between two gay "strangers" in the park, or to squeeze character out of a scene that's meant to be an expository lecture on the death of privacy.

LaPorte's writing never manages to connect on the specifics behind our fears of love, but Krishnan occasionally skews some of those generalities into a world of their own. At best, she finds a way to showcase Richard Saudek's excellent (and long-limbed) physical comedy, hunching him over in a red corset as he crisply spins an umbrella. It's more of an effort for Shawn Rice, who has to leap from old age to spry youth, accounting his sexual history with a showman's elan, but still an interesting departure. However, scenes between two lesbians, played by Julia Zangrilli and Laine Bonstein, are horribly overacted (that's after giving them guy points for their nude dance) and some of the worst moments stem from Jimmy Juste's stereotyped cross-dressing sass. These bits, which grasp both for significance and style, are among the more nightmarish parts of Dream of Me, for they show that the writer and director are as lost as their characters.

It's hard to praise Amy Temple's considerable charm when her characters--a girl who has trouble eating, and a girl who does a classic strip-tease in the heat of her memories--have no foundation. And it's tough to say much for the relationship between the missed connections pair played by Lila Green and Jenna Weinberg, for we know so little about them that their inevitable conversation is either an extension of their crazed normalcy or an expression of hopeless romance. The ambition of Dream of Me is a fine thing, but Mainspring Collective is still dreaming if they think this is a finished product.


jimmy said...

Ha! Thank you brotha'.

being julia said...

Richard Saudek does NOT! have long limbs.