Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: Waiting for Grief to End

We all grieve in different ways. And that’s never been more true than in Kasey Brown and Marc J. Franklin’s Thank You for Waiting. The drama follows a pair of old friends who happen upon the same room where they are forced to have a conversation a year in the making. Along they way, we learn the incident that has torn them apart and just how it has affected their lives. Exploring themes of anxiety disorders, fears, and mourning, Thank You For Waiting is a fantastic examination of a relationship.
Performed by Brown and Franklin, Thank You for Waiting follows Kate, a newbie to New York City, who happens upon a doctors office where her longtime friend Eddie happens to work. Soon, it’s revealed that after a year, Eddie and Kate have been disconnected at the hands of Eddie who has ignored every attempt of communication. While they seem to be able to pick up where they left off, the waiting room of the office is filled with tension and words that are begging to come out. When it’s finally revealed that their mutual friend’s death has caused their wedge, we discover that these two individuals are mourning in drastically different ways. Kate’s attempt at grief requires her best friend Eddie. Eddie’s attempt at grief requires space between he and Kate. Just how this pair can find closure is the question of the play. Brown and Franklin’s piece is captivating, touching upon themes that reverberate with anyone watching. It’s likely that you can relate to either character in some form or another. The relationship between Kate and Eddie is strong. With little exposition, we’re easily able to know who these people are, piecing together their past while building upon their present. Their script, for the most part, avoids fluff, keeping the dialogue filled with important information. Where things get messy is how the play is performed. From the get-go, you love Kate. She’s relatable, cute, and bubbly. You accept her at face value. Eddie is a bit rougher on the surface. He deals with his problems on the surface, disconnecting from the situation every chance he gets. And the more you learn about Eddie, the more you want to throw something at him for the awful things he says. To put it bluntly, Eddie is a dick. Sure, you understand where he may be coming from but calling Kate selfish is quite hypocritical. To have such a strong reaction toward a character is a mark of strong writing.
Kasey Brown and Marc J. Franklin seem to approach their performance from two different perspectives that only come together toward the end. Brown’s Kate begins the play with Kimmy Schmidt optimism. She gives Kate a wide-eyed view of the world. Her quirks are just that. We don’t really question them until she does. Franklin’s Eddie is more dramatic and natural. With one party playing in a sitcom world while the other has a more soap opera approach, they don’t really meet in the middle often. It’s not until Kate has her breakdown that Brown and Franklin feel like they are in the same play. While neither choice is wrong, they may not have been the perfect pair to play off of one another. That being said, they are individually two skillful performers.
Directed by Nicholas Foster, Thank You for Waiting is a two-hander that moves. Foster kept the pacing natural, allowing the beats to move when necessary and lived in at the right moments. He guided the duo through this emotional journey but finding a way to get them on the same page seemed like it was difficult. But that’s what could happen when your actors are the scribes. The set was simple. Two sections of chairs that made up the waiting room. It felt open yet claustrophobic, something that both characters experience. It was a metaphorical success.
Thank You For Waiting is a strong piece of writing. It’s a story about loss that you can connect with.