Wouldn't it be loverly?
The Inner Circle
By Colin Pink
Directed by David Koppel
The Luminous Group
Sande Shurin Theatre
311 W. 43rd St (330-9313)
Equity showcase (closes June 17)
Review by David Mackler
It's distressing to see a play that has flashes of promise fall apart under
the weight of its own contrivances, but it is particularly unfortunate when it
is rendered hopeless by one performance.
The Luminous Group's production of Colin Pink's The Inner Circle had
some good things going for it - it was a handsome production, with a fine set (Elizabeth
Wunch), great costumes (Emily Horton), good original music (Andrew
Recinos), well-intentioned if confused lighting (Sebastian Paczynski),
and three excellent performances (Bruce DuBose, Kristina O'Neal,
The play takes place in London, which means accents, not an undue hardship.
Director David Koppel encouraged DuBose, O'Neal, and Pantano to underplay
the speech patterns, and each managed to project feelings and thoughts even when
not provided with them by the playwright. But Jennifer Rice did not seem
to have attended the same rehearsals as the rest, as her speech, vocal
modulation and acting ability were at a wide variance. It was also the kind of
performance that highlights, rather than hides, a play's shortcomings.
DuBose was Simon, a painter for whom other people are there simply to be used
as tools for his talent. O'Neal was Debbie, his long-time and
long-term-suffering girlfriend, who drinks too much. Pantano was Marcia, who
modeled for Simon some years ago for a successful series of paintings, the
legacy of which was a heroin addiction. Rice was Kay, Simon's newest model, toy,
and (unbelievably) nemesis. DuBose was completely believable as the talented
user and abuser, and he even helped keep the audience from noticing that his
character's asthma turns out to be the equivalent of Chekhov's gun. O'Neal was
terrifically adept at combining neediness, anger, and frustration with an
appealing vulnerability. Pantano was on shakier ground at first, but she
humorously showed her character's self-awareness even as she was clearly
self-destructive. But Rice, as Kay, used a Cockney accent so fake and loud it
would make the chorus of My Fair Lady sound legitimate, and she recited
lines without any sense of meaning or humanness.
And as the play's dénouement belongs to Kay, this was the fatal blow to
The Inner Circle. The other actors, including Tyne Firmin in the
brief role of Simon's art dealer, could have distracted the audience from the
play's gimmicky plot. In fact, when Marcia encourages Debbie to start painting
again, playwright, director, and actors showed what might have been. Instead of
making it a way for Debbie to express herself, it became a plea for help -
Marcia has nothing in her life, and modeling for Debbie will give her a purpose,
and possibly a way out. When Simon belittles Debbie's efforts, a dynamic is
finally in place, which might have substance. But then Kay shows up again, and
all bets are off.
So the audience was left wondering at the rapid approach of dusk in Act One;
could enjoy the electronic music completely suitable to these emotionally
starved characters; and could appreciate the ecstatically tacky outfits Marcia
wore. And wonder how the Limburger got onto the cheese plate.
Seven, Number Thirty-one Index
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Copyright 2001 David Mackler