Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Waiting for Something

Don't lie, you've dreamed about a spontaneous meeting with a stranger that leads to the epitome of a Hollywood romance. But life isn't Hollywood and most people don't actually have the nerve to say hello to that beautiful stranger. In Harrison Bryan's Still Not, Bryan explores the chance meeting of two strangers on a park bench that leads to a whole lot of talk about nothing that's actually filled with something.
Essentially a ninety minute meet-cute, Still Not follows the succession of days after a boy follows his path home and finds the same girl waiting for closure from her ex boyfriend. With themes of heartbreak, resolution, and finding a way to emotionally moving forward, Still Not tackles fate and the desire for somebody. Rather than use specificity, Bryan fills his script with vagueness. This technique makes this story resonate for each individual experiencing it. While this does lead to repetition, Bryan structures his text particularly. There's a natural duality as each of the six scenes mirror one another, though progress is had. Still Not is not a plot driven play. Many of the scenes could be combined. Though the idea of fate would be lost, the six scenes seem a bit abundant. With the balance of real life and Hollywood romcom explored, Bryan could shrink it down as there are numerous false endings. Feeling like the play could conceivably end after the third blackout is not necessary a good thing.
photo by Jay Zawacki
Directing Still Not is like choreographing a dance. Director Rory Lance played upon stillness and body language as the driving force of his staging. Lance needed to find activity in an action-less play and he did. He explored the beats and tactics well, trying to vary the motives from scene to scene. With such restrictions to work around, every choice was specific. And blackouts are a specific choice. With no transitional sound aside from a late and subtle nature soundscape, the blackouts following the scenes caused false endings and unwarranted audience reaction. While it may seem minimal, by the time the final blackout came, it was hard to be positive if this was in deed the end. The lighting by Kayleigha Zawacki provided a nice marriage of natural and theatricality. It was a strong choice to block the actors in but that moment someone strayed into the darkness looked like a mistake.
It's clear that Still Not fit the voices of the particular actors. That's especially the case of you happen to be the scribe. Harrison Bryan and Shelby Hightower had perfect onstage chemistry. They provided a good balance for one another. While it was a two-hander, Bryan's Man was the focal character in terms of content. Bryan brought a neurotic charm that is perfectly likened to the cuteness of a lost puppy. Using physicality to his advantage, Bryan captured an experience we've all been through. Hightower was given the more emotional arc to journey through. With more of a backstory for her character, Hightower fought the “woe is me” scenario and played into her suitors hand. But was she leading him on and giving him a false sense of hope? If you've ever been on the other side of the situation, her attention for the boy was even more heartbreaking. Once you're caught in love, there is no escape. Once a crush, always a crush.
Still Not is hopeful yet heartbreaking, practical yet idealistic. Harrison Bryan has a something special in his hands.