In Manuscript, David and his childhood best friend Chris catch up after a semester at their respective Ivys. On this night, Chris brings along his new girl, Elizabeth, a published writer to meet David. As drinks are had, insults are flung and moments alone reveal histories that are larger than life. Grellong’s script is beautifully dark and magnificently troubling. Watching these three privileged kids manipulate each other in a game of revenge is a great story for the stage, but it greatly relies on intricate direction. Manuscript is one of those rare productions that was a bit of a wreck at the start but the clever and soupy twists by Grellong brought you back into the play. But I don't know if this production was able to redeem itself by then due to the dragging pace at the start. It's a catch 22 when so much information at the beginning is necessary to truly land the end. But by director Paige Fridell playing the action so slowly, it detracted from allowing natural acting from the trio. Additionally, the production was a bit stylistically messy. Without revealing any wonderful spoilers, by playing the characters with an edge of falseness too early, it appears as poor acting rather than deliberate acting. As the play progresses, you learn that David, Chris, and Elizabeth are all performing in one form or another. Cameron Clarke, Matthew Hansen, and Kimberly Nordstrom respectively had to tread that fine line as the audience needs to go on this revelation journey as well. By going over the top too soon, it’s possible to disregard the performances of the characters and question the motives. The trio had some nice moments on stage but overall struggled within the truths and lies presented.
|photo courtesy of Just Kidding Theatre Company|
Just Kidding Theatre Company’s production of Manuscript was a big undertaking. The overall vision was muddied causing a domino effect of faults. Thankfully, Grellong’s script is exciting and deserving of attention.