Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Party of Three

Sometimes hanging out in a basement leads to boredom, which then leads to drinking resulting in personal and internal conflict due to inebriation. In Danny Mitarotondo’s Sun and Room, a guest-less party leads to three friends confronting personal demons while dancing to music, chowing down on pizza, and drowning their sorrows through booze. As the sun rises, eyes shut on a night that they’ll likely forget.
Sun and Room by Danny Mitarotondo follows a trio of college kids who blast music while eating pizza, guzzling beer and liquor, and brushing the surface of what their future is going to be. Aside from that, there’s not much more action to speak of. Leah plays host to best friend Zoe and new pal Matt as they wait for the pending guests in a Godot-like standstill. As they hang, we see glimpses of character. Matt is socially awkward that may or may not be gay. Leah is a lost soul looking for acceptance and guidance. Zoe is a drunken mess that only finds inner peace with alcohol and sex. The commonality between the trio is three individuals who are isolated searching for companionship. But Mitarotondo only brushes the surface, as there truly is no resolution or arc for the story or characters. There is a lot of nothing that happens, which is a true and honest depiction of what friends would do on a Friday night, but there feels as if there is something lacking. There is more that wants to be explored. And little nuances that the characters mentioned early on were never spoken of again. The most interesting one was Leah and the grave importance of her father’s record player. With the walls lined with records, you almost have to wonder why the music source was a computer and not this revered record player. Little things like that may have helped tie the world together a little better. The soundtrack of the world was very particular to the characters and lacked resonation to the audience.
photo courtesy of Danielle Faitelson
Sun and Room was specifically written for the voices of the actors. And it’s clear. Leah Brewer, Zoe Pike, and Matthew Socci bring so much heart and dedication to the stage. They have a strong connection to their stage personas, whether they are merely abstractions of self or full on representations. But with a script written for a specific set of actors, even using the same names, it begs the question of where does actor end and character begin and can this play exist beyond this trio? Brewer, Pike, and Socci do a phenomenal job representing youth today and in turn extensions of themselves, but giving this intricate play to a new group of artists, will it carry the same weight.
Director Shannon Fillion took Mitarotondo’s script and found reality. Her spot-on direction was almost too real. Fillion guided her young actors through an evening of debauchery that reminded you of that one night with your friends. Her staging was fluid and constant, finding great stillness as the night died, but the moments when the stage was bare and the characters were “upstairs” went on a bit long. Costume designer Jane Gould gave the characters a personality and identity through clothing. They were authentic yet specific. Alicia Laws, who served as scenic and lighting designer had a big job. Laws’ dingy basement had an eclectic array of objects and a questionable color scheme. But we learn Leah is “remodeling” so it can pass. Laws and Fillion depended on light, or lack there of. With the play set in a basement, natural light was explored through two dynamic windows. Close attention to detail was had at the start and toward the end of the play using the existence of the sun and moon. Even a simple pass by of light was seen to represent the pizza delivery. But the middle of the play, those windows were filled with darkness yet with no practical lights on, there was still light. This was truly the only moment of theatricality within the entire play.
Sun and Room is a brilliant look at a slice of life. Beyond that, there is little that was explored. Mitarotondo created a piece that has great heart and great potential but it may not translate with a different ensemble.