New York International Fringe Festival
On through 24 August
Nothing sells cheap tickets faster than male nudity live on stage. This new play by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich takes place in the home of three male roommates somewhere just far enough outside the city that there’s an actual parking lot next to the building. Dave (Shane Jacobsen) has a peculiar knack for getting in minor car accidents, resulting in a fine collection of scrapes and bruises, which we see later on during his long nude scene. His roommate, Mark (Quinn Mattfeld) is busy lusting after married women and ditching the ones who appear in the slightest bit overeager. Then there’s Ben, (Christopher McCann), who is in his fifties but still as horny as a teenager. He’s the noisy one in the next room getting his rocks off with Michelle (Sarah Silk), a slight little 21 year-old fresh off the boat from France. Add to this lot Dave’s girlfriend, Mary (Rebecca Henderson) who spends the length of the show trying to see if their relationship is strong enough for her not to take a job in L.A. Finally there is Celia (Linda Jones), the next-door neighbor who also gets swept up in the sexcapades of life down the hall. Blumenthal-Ehrlich’s script attempts several things at once, including rapid-fire banter, meditations on present day relationships and the kitsch of sitcom. The end result is less Sorkin and Haggis and more “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.” Or, at least that’s what the show should aspire to be. Aside from Dave, Mark and Mary (the two guys and a girl here), the rest of the cast doesn’t need to be in the room for this story. It seems that the goal is to tell a funny, yet affecting cautionary tale about relationships and collisions, but the focus keeps running off on tangents. I can’t remember the last time I saw a play where the characters talked so much about other characters that would never appear onstage. Or one where the ringing of a telephone (the loud metaphor throughout) could be so grating. There are laughs in the second half, but not enough weight to flesh out the drama. Thankfully, we have the talents of Henderson, Jacobsen and Mattfeld to carry us through. They can each oscillate between the comedy and the drama, and we in the audience are actually interested in seeing them do both. Yet my biggest question about the play (which only makes sense if you happened to see it) is this: How does he start the car without his keys?