Thursday, August 19, 2010

FRINGE: The Conveniences of Modern Living

Love is a matter of "spontaneiality," according to one of the charming characters in The Conveniences of Modern Living; when Daniel John Kelley and Emily Plumb are at their best, they manage to conjure up a lovely mix of spontaneous reality. Best not to dwell on the talking Dryer (Jessica Love)--it's enough that an innocent face simply peers out of that door with fabric softener sheets crinkled through her hair and a long slinky-pipe of an arm. And such imagery fits perfectly with the precocious poetry of ten-year-old Bobson (Zack Palomo), who is falling for his babysitter, Agnes (Maya Baldwin)--and not just in their make-believe games. It also saves Agnes's husband, Harold (Rory Sheridan), from having to explain exactly what he's doing on those late nights with the Dryer. The less it's acknowledged, the easier it is to accept that--following the loss of their child--this is just how things are. But as the play continues, it becomes self-aware of its absurdity, veering into a farcical and campy dinner scene with Bobson's horrible parents--the selfish and sniping Bettina (Tavia Trepte) and the drugged-out and arrogant Bernard (David Ian Lee)--and runs out of things to say. Instead, it spins a bunch of hot air around and around, attempting to steal gravity from Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" and losing the unique charm of its own childishly romantic fantasy: "I would sit forever in the principal's office of your heart." On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Totally on the fritz" and 5 being "A real life-saver," The Conveniences of Modern Living gets a 3.

1 comment:

Daniel Kelley said...

Thanks for coming Aaron! I thought I saw you there...We really appreciate this thoughtful critique of the show.