Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Ultimate Friendship Test

It takes two to tango just like it takes two to make a friendship work. Long lasting bonds are sometimes hard to keep. There are bumps in the road. People change. New relationships enter the equation. So making friendships work over time is difficult. And if you’re ever feeling unsure of your friendship, put it to the test. In Knife Edge Productions revival of Stephen Belber’s Fault Lines, a pair, reaching forty, test the strength of their friendship with the aid of alcohol.
Fault Lines follows friends Jim and Bill as they meet a local bar in order to reconnect. As they reminisce about the past and catch up about recent events, a boisterous stranger comes and wreaks havoc exposing the cracks in truth and the faults in a friendship. For the most part, Belber’s story is straightforward and real. But the fatal flaw of the script comes with the sharp turn of a blindsided twist. It can be quite difficult as a company and a director to make that transition seamless. Unfortunately it wasn’t, but after the game gets going, the ensemble eases back into their roles.
As Jim and Bill respectfully, Neil Holland and Chaz Reuben had a nice blend of familiarity and void. Holland as the Peter Pan like Jim played up the man who doesn’t want to grow up role quite nicely, even when his scheme was in play. Reuben’s skeptical Bill was a great foil often dominating the scenes. Upon his entrance, Michael Puzzo as Joe, the stranger with a motive, won the audience over with his hilarity and energy. Puzzo did his best with his ever-changing identity, with his shining moments as the first incarnation of Joe. Danelle Eliav as Bill’s wife seemed a bit out of place comparatively. Her energy was much lower than the rest of the ensemble, seeming to enter with preconceived skepticism.
Director Shira-Lee Shalit guided her ensemble with certainty. With the aid of an overall strong script and team, Shalit highlighted all of the strong elements at the right moments. Shalit’s staging was natural, not asking her actors to move for the sake of movement. The gorgeous set design by Nick Francone evoked the spirit of a schlocky bar, though the mess of the floor was too strategically placed.
Fault Lines is a gem of a production. With a poignant script and well-rounded ensemble, Fault Lines will get you pondering the value of your own friendships.

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