Monday, November 28, 2011


The great thing about site-specific theater is that even when the play's awful, you're at least somewhere new. Thankfully, Alex Goldberg's It Is Done isn't awful -- just mediocre -- and it's in the basement of The Mean Fiddler, a cheery, old-fashioned bar, so you can pass the time with a few drinks. Passing the time is also the theme of Goldberg's ninety-minute play, in which Matt Kalman plays a horny bartender whose godforsaken watering hole is visited by two strangers, Ruby (Catia Ojeda) and Jonas (Ean Sheehy), and their two dark secrets. Or at least that's the theme of the stronger and funnier first half, in which the characters flirt with and/or disgust one another; once the ice melts (it soon gets very hot, in case the play's foreshadowing isn't clear), the play gets stuck on a single, mildly entertaining note, which largely revolves around (1) how much fun Ojeda seems to be having and (2) how infectiously close the audience is to her as she prowls around the bar.

The plotting renders its own points moot; when one character asks why certain unnatural things are happening, the reply is that "It's more fun this way," along with the disclaimer, "Well, for me." It's a one-sided cry for help, and although there are a few neat visual tricks worked out between director Tom Wojtunik and production designer Tim McMath (the paintings, the door, and the jukebox all have their moments), the dramatic balance of power never changes. It Is Done has no shortage of quips (e.g., if rotary phones are classic, so's syphilis), but writing like that's bottom-shelf theater. If we begin as flies on the wall, eavesdropping on a fresh first date, by the end we're closer to the sort of flies that buzz around a long-dead corpse.

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