Every kiss is a betrayal
By Steven Dietz
Directed by James Reynolds
The Shurin Theater
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by David Mackler
Playwright Steven Dietz uses a rather literary device in his play Trust
- most scenes are introduced by one or another of the characters' announcing
"Title" and then giving a pithy insinuation of what is about to happen.
Delivered like this, the technique doesn't act (as probably intended) like
chapter headings, nor is it like intertitles in a film. These "titles" don't
give anything away plot-wise, but they do come across as an unnecessary
Which is a shame because the characters presented are, for the most part, an
interesting bunch, and they are caught up in recognizable dilemmas. Becca (Hope
Jackson) is engaged to Cody (Joseph Brocato), a currently hot
musician. While they seem unsuited to each other, they generate plenty of heat.
Gretchen (Heather Aldridge) has been burned in past relationships and now
treads very lightly when she is interested in someone. Leah (Liz Lalumia),
a musician past her prime, has no illusions left yet acts in ways that are
simultaneously wise and foolish. Holly (Emily Grace) is, well, she can be
a bitch, but she does manage to recognize it every now and again. Roy (Derek
Michalak), infatuated with Holly, expects (and is usually granted) nothing,
but he keeps on keeping on.
Not a bad bunch of characters, but the playwright keeps getting in their way.
Director James Reynolds staged the play as a series of individual scenes but
didn't create a cohesive whole. Many scenes are excellent by themselves -
Gretchen, a dress designer, fitting Becca for her wedding dress; Cody shaving
Becca's legs; Roy speaking of his attraction to Holly; the women at a bar
trading stories and advice. But while the play doesn't build, the performances
were strong, and in some cases downright excellent.
Particularly effective was Hope Jackson's Becca, flirtatious without
too much malice, but when she's hurt, watch out. Her confrontation with Cody was
real, frightening, and funny, and begged for her to be seen in classics - as
Hedda perhaps, or Nora. Heather Aldridge's Gretchen started off a little
shaky, but she warmed up wonderfully. Holly, a shallow twentysomething, could
easily have been a caricature, but Grace kept her human and surprisingly funny;
Michalak was terrifically comic as he delivered a monologue about insecurity,
women, and shoplifting. Brocato and Lalumia had a harder time of it as the hot
and washed-up musicians, since their characters were not terribly believable,
but their needs and flaws were clear.
The set (by Elizabeth Wunsch) was a colorful melange of abstract
styles on the otherwise black walls, floors, screens, and movable platforms. The
costumes (uncredited), from Becca's wedding dress to Leah's rock 'n' roll gear,
were exactly right for the characters. Lighting effects (by Amy Fowler)
were likewise right for scenes as different as a bar and a park, and the
seemingly continuous songs played under the action were never obtrusive and
always appropriate (sound uncredited).
As for the play, maybe its most important lesson is that when you are
approaching a woman who is sitting at a bar with a friend, sit next to the
friend - it keeps your sight lines open. If, as Cody's lyric has it, every kiss
is a betrayal, and if trust isn't all it's cracked up to be, then pay attention
to how you stage-manage your life.