Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Enter Perfection

It’s simple as this: grieving sucks. It’s hard and takes many forms. In the sharp and hauntingly beautiful Exit Carolyn, we watch as three characters’ lives are affected by the death of a loved one. And they each take their sorrow to heart. Julie and Lorna are roommates who are still feeling the aftermath of the death of their best friend and roommate, Carolyn. Lorna has decided to put grieving on the backburner and move on while Julie, a month later, still sits on the couch eating her pains and watching “Judge Judy” all day long. As the play progresses, we learn that Carolyn was the unannounced glue that kept the trio together. Lorna pushes Julie to move on with her life but Julie wants nothing but to preserve the past as long as she can, including not touching a single item in Carolyn’s bedroom. Julie, who seemed to always have a thing for Carolyn’s brother, Matthew, calls Matthew on an inebriated whim to come over. We see Matthew’s way of grief falls right in between Julie and Lorna. Julie and Matthew enter Carolyn’s room and put on her clothes as they believe it’s the only way they can still feel her. Meanwhile Lorna has invited Avery, a potential new roommate, over to view the apartment to take the third spot. Avery, a quirky and not all quite there girl, stays forcing a major wedge between two girls who have very different ideals of moving forward.
Jennie Berman Eng’s script is near perfect. She has captured four distinct characters in a situation that is dramatic, but added just the right amount of comedy. The dialogue is smart, punctual, and utterly believable. Sure some fat can be trimmed in the second act, but overall, she has a solid script that tugs at the heart. Adam Knight has done a sublime job guiding an outstanding ensemble. The objectives are clear. Jake Loewenthal is charming as Matthew. Anna O’Donoghue is good playing the tough as nails Lorna, but lacks the full amount of empathy needed to make the final scene spot on. Lauren Blumenfeld does a wonderful as the quirky comic relief, Avery. But the stand out of the ensemble is the beautifully underrated and stunning Laura Ramadei as Julie. Ramadei is the perfect blend of funny and sincere. Ramadei has a bright career ahead of her, so it’s unfair to say that this was a performance of a lifetime, so instead, this is a career-defining performance.
The organic design of the show fits perfectly. Steven Manuel does a great job costuming the characters to fit their personalities. He even ties in Ashlee Springer’s maroon pillows and curtain into some of the costumes. Austin Bransgrove’s lights set the mood quite nicely. My favorite moment design-wise in the production came in the first act when Lorna was in the living room listening to the Rolling Stones and Matthew and Julie entered Carolyn’s room. Toby Jaguar Algya did something marvelous with the sound, reminding us that there was still music being played but drowning out the definition. The effect was genius.
Exit Carolyn is one of the best plays I’ve seen in a very long time. It is a must see. You will be moved from start to finish.