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''Rearviewmirror'': Three Characters in Search of a Play
Directed by Carl Forsman
59 East 59th St. between Park & Madison avenues
Opened April 5, 2007
Wed. & Thurs. 7:30 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 8:30 p.m., Sun. 3:30 p.m.
$20 (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com
Closes April 22, 2007
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons April 6, 2007
(left to right) Audrey Linn Weston, Mark Alhadeff and Sarah Nina Hayon. Photo by Colin D. Young.
First let me confess, I have never read Euripides' '' The Bacchae.'' So when I'm told that Eric Winick's' new pop music-inflected play ''Rearviewmirror'' is inspired by this ancient Greek play, it doesn't mean much to me.
And while I was impressed by the acting skills of the three monologists, Mark Alhadeff, Sarah Nina Hayon and Audrey Lynn Weston, as well as Carl Forsman's heroic effort to turn three people sitting on stools and talking into a drama, I'm not sure we need one more play about people telling us their life stories, connected or unconnected.
Penn (the appropriately smug Alhadeff) is a wannabe screenwriter and film fanatic. He has a thing for orthodox Jewish girls and meets one, the newly devout Agatha (the wild-eyed Weston), who has been dragged back from Israel, following her revelation, by her distraught parents. When Agatha becomes a musical cult groupie, Penn turns to the home-grown orthodox Inez (the almost believable Hayon), who has sex with him in one room of his apartment while Agatha sleeps in the other.
The important thing to realize, however, is that none of this happens onstage. In fact, the characters seldom even look at each other. Don't believe the sexy scene on the program. It never happens. Forsman uses light (Colin D. Young) and sound (Ryan Rumery) very effectively and might have gotten more drama out of the play with a little help from his playwright. But these three intersecting stories remain just that, well delivered narratives, but narratives nonetheless.
(Left to right) Audrey Lynn Weston and Mark Alhadeff. Photo by Colin D. Young.
The theme of ''Rearviewmirror,'' the search for spiritual fulfillment, is certainly one we can all identify with. It is probably the most important issue most of us face. But there have to be better ways of portraying this on stage than with endless talk, talk, talk.
There's something just too cutesy about this play, beginning with the title (what's this play got to do with a rearview mirror or a rearviewmirror anyway?) down to the too-pat contrast of the women sitting on either side of Penn. The playwright knows a great deal about orthodox Jews but couldn't come up with a character free of every stereotype he managed to think up. He also knows a lot about movies and spends far too much time proving it.
This is a young play. It's filled with pop culture references. It has enough enthusiasm for three concerts, a frat party and an all-night study session. But a grownup searching for insights worth thinking about will have to look elsewhere.
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