Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: Crazies in Love

It's inevitable that a wild one-night stand can make a pretty good story days later. In Red Soil Production's double bill Good Morning & Good Night, two pairs of sex hungry people experience a night they likely will want to forget. Presented at the Producers' Club, the double bill of two handers about sex, love, lust, and insanity, unites a series of mutual themes in a night of physical comedy, moans, and groans.
The first offering of the night was Goodnight by Christopher Wharton. The comedy follows a Brit and a Greek. The dashing Albert Green finds himself at the peculiar home of a woman, simply named The Greek, after meeting a mere four hours earlier. The moment the lights rise, Albert and The Greek are engaged in a heavy makeout session that leads to some madcap foreplay. As the games commence, Albert, in his drunken state, discovers he’s having some penal problems. The Greek takes a bubble bath in hopes Albert will be ready when she finishes, but being alone in her room leads to a series of awful choices by Albert including, and not limited to, snooping around, reading her diary, discovering her preference for male grooming, and stupidly deciding to amend to her wishes. Goodnight certainly has its moments. There are some hardy laughs and many cringe worthy moments that almost beg the audience to vocally react. But the text itself was lacking. Wharton’s script didn’t seem to go anyway. Despite that, the chemistry between The Greek, played by Mantalena Pappadatou and Albert, played by the writer himself, was lacking. There was a lot of dead air that hurt the momentum of the comedy. Despite being a two-hander, the character arc was more fleshed out for Albert rather than The Greek. If Albert had been a character in a sitcom, The Greek would have been a guest role on the episode. Wharton certainly had a posh way about his comedy, and it was funny, but there was just substance missing in his performance. As The Greek, Pappadatou brought a dominating amount of sex appeal. The only struggle was the clarity of Pappadatou’s language.
The second play of the evening was Good Morning by Matthew Stannah, following a similar formula of boy and girl meet and wind up at the girl’s place. Only this time, it was the morning after. The focal character in this piece was starlet Samantha, a Marilyn Monroe-like beauty with a beaming smile and wide eyes. Only as the events of the evening are recalled, you discover that Samantha is way off her rocker. As Jason Lust sleeps, Samantha snoops around his stuff to discover that he is the owner of some sort of entertainment business, instantly turning her into someone who will stop at nothing to find fame, and love. When Jason arises, he has no memory of arriving at Samantha’s pretty in pink bedroom. Nor does he even remember his mate’s name. It’s revealed that the seemingly innocent Samantha drugged Jason and began to plan their life together, as future Mr. and Mrs. Jason Lust. Jason tries to let her down easy, but Samantha will not take no for an answer. Good Morning seemed to be a little more fleshed out, finding a clear objective for both characters. Playing Jason, playwright Stannah played the same action often, though he shined in his physical comedy. Gabrielle Sarrubbo’s Sam gives Kathy Bates in “Misery” a run for her money. Sarrubbo was the highlight of the entire evening. She was strong, determined, and had great delivery. Her rise to obsession with Jason was hilarious to watch.
The parallels in the plays were boundless. Was it to prove the universality of the situations or merely coincidence? Well, that’s up for debate. But some of those moments did garner some chuckles, primarily the groinal grooming bit. Each piece showcased a different side of intensity through the female character. One was overtly sexual, decked out in black, and was proud of her wild side. The other was innocent to the eye, wearing white, but had a deep and dark crazy side. What was interesting about the plays together was the fact that both male characters were virtually the same. Despite being written by two different authors, it would have been more dynamic for the male character to be the same person, allowing this evening of one acts to unite further.
Director Yudelka Heyer had some difficulty when it came to her staging. It was a bit rough. With a small stage with many scenic elements, finding room to move in a non-repetitive manner was hard. Despite the matching bedroom set being aesthetically pleasing, the less is more idea would have been beneficial. Heyer placed the bed centrally on stage, allowing the actors to move around it completely. Both plays featured similar objectives of one party wanting to leave and one party wanting to get the other to stay. With clear escapes and opportunities, the staging of the objectives was forced. You can only do so much with what you have but the job of the director is to figure out how to make it work.
Good Morning & Good Night captures the unbelievably insane stories of one-night stands but they don’t quite reach their full potential. It may have been beneficial for Wharton and Stannah to take themselves out of their own plays and perhaps swap roles in order to hear their texts from a solely playwright perspective.