Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fringe/May-December with the Nose & Clammy

Jonas Cohen and Naomi McDougall Jones have come up with a genuinely cute love story in May-December with the Nose & Clammy. They've even come up with a clever framing device: Lily (Jones) is having second thoughts about marrying Noah (Craig Waletzko), so she's invited him to this theater, where they can re-enact the highs and lows of their eight-month relationship for an impartial audience--i.e., you. Never mind that it's obvious, right off their opening monologues, that these two neurotically romantic intellectuals are perfect for one another. Even though it's nothing new, the following eighty minutes are fun to watch, running--like sitcoms--on the cast's considerable charm and chemistry.

The only thing that stretches too far is the decision to break the play's "reality" to show Noah and Lily's caped and crime-fighting alter-egos: the Nose, strutting around with a giant nose on his chest, and Clammy, a gal with a clam-shell face. (The clam is just a clam, folks: Jones and Cohen aren't going for deep symbolism here.) It's handled well by the director, Ava Geffen, but there's no need for sketchy laughs when Lily is already boldly gathering them--when we "first" meet her, eight months in the past, she's coming out of the Men's bathroom, explaining her entitlement to an uncomfortable yet curious Noah. Their chess-like banter is the sort of stuff that leads to lines like "Well played," and the drama is born of nervous sincerity: Noah, jaded from past relationships, has trouble believing that Lily loves him; later, when Lily turns out to be pregnant, she worries that she's already spending too much time raising her childish boyfriend.

Oddly, this ends up being the play's real Achilles heel: Noah and Lily are such nice people (and Jones and Waletzko such light--i.e., comic--actors) that they end up stretching the drama, too. The conflict is too well-reasoned and thought out--intellectual, not visceral--to do much. Then again, people do love their safe and scripted sitcoms. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Stuffy and cold" and 5 being "A hidden pearl," May-December with the Nose & Clammy gets a 3.

1 comment:

Michelle Custodio said...

I haven't heard this play or is this a movie? If it is, then it seems a pretty interesting story. All about May-December relationship is really something.