Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: The Olsen Twins Don't Know Best

Being a 20something in this day and age can be hard. Especially through the eyes of us 20somethings. Love, work, relationships, money. It’s hard to achieve success. Oh who are we kidding. This generation tends to exaggerate the woes of life. And to help emphasize this are the Olsen Twins, the former child stars who no longer want to be famous. In The Flea’s production of Mary-Kate Olsen is in Love, we watch Grace and Tyler, a young married couple experiencing the monotony of life. And the Olsen Twins and a “Call of Duty” Soldier are present to aid them in realizing life sucks and the only way out of it is to do something about it.
Mallery Avidon’s script has some nice, genuine moments but overall seems to be too confused itself to be a knockout. It is very clear why the play was presented as it has poignant themes, but why this play may not have such a clear answer. Of all celebrities in the world, why the Olsen twins? Why do these two dominant this poor woman’s mind? What do they mean to her? The lack of clarity to this central point leaves a lot of questions unanswered to the true character of Grace. The other big script question is the Amazing Girls. To no fault of their own, the Amazing Girls make no sense in the world of the play, except perhaps at the very end when you've already written them off, and serve as filler or need to add more to the cast. Clarity to their presence was much needed as well.
There is a bright light in the production and that comes in the form of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Kana Hatakeyama and Christine Lee as Ashley and Mary-Kate respectively are quite lovely, serving as the focal point of comedy. They nail their non-sequesters with ease bringing the humor to life. They are the standouts of the production. Unfortunately, there are a few miscues within the rest of the ensemble. Katherine Folk-Sullivan, like her character Grace, seems lost. Her monotonous manner and delivery lacks leading lady power. Sure, it may fit the character in some version, but Mary-Kate and Ashley’s monotone is much more interesting, outshining Folk-Sullivan’s. Grace wants to be stronger and we should be able to see that change from start to finish. Alex Grubb’s deadbeat Tyler is clear but the initiation to change is quite contrived. “I like “Call of Duty” therefore I should join the Army” may work for humor but it lacks the impact that it wants. We know Tyler may have no other choice than to join the Army, but we don’t hear him acknowledge this. Alex Mandell as the Solider is a bit inconsistent, changing midway through his appearances. He starts off as a larger than life character with an accent and suddenly drops it sentences later probably due to messiness of the script.
The world of the play is very present, from reality to insanity. Kristan Seemel establishes a maze for Grace to navigate. Her overall direction leaves much to be desired. There are some rich ideas that seem to be lost in translation. Scott Tedmon-Jones’s set has some cool surprises, but the pink chain-link that is the main focal point of the design is a lot to look at. The transformation the set takes when the girls go to Tahiti is quite lovely. John Eckert does a nice job with his lighting design, bringing color and life to the black space.
Mary-Kate Olsen is in Love is a messy miss. Maybe with better execution it would serve as a strong satire, but currently it’s a scattered assortment of ideas that don’t seem to serve as a call out on love in the 20something generation.