Friday, July 27, 2007


Girl power, perhaps, but Tender was way too soft a play for me. Shapour Benard has crafted four interesting, different young women, but she's left them stranded in limbo, and neither her plot nor dialog give us any conflict, just a lot of consolation and solidarity. The lead character, named Soledad, is anything but solid (whereas Kellie E. McCants is too firm in the role). Her temporary job as a bartender (hence the title's double-meaning) has gone on for eight years, and while that's fine for Sam (Kelly B. Dwyer), her trust-funded punk-loving roommate, she's embarrassed by the recent success of her close friend Anna (Andrea Dionne), a kitschy, semi-conservative music critic who seems overly excited by everything. She turns to an older friend, Julie (Amber Gray), who grew distant after breaking up with Sam (after six years) in order to marry into security, and with whom she shares a dark secret. But that's where it ends: with a weakly argued showdown that doesn't dredge up the past so much as gently trip over it. Benard's energies are well intentioned, but without true conflict -- nobody in the play seems to want anything, except Soledad -- the play is stuck in a mire that can sometimes be amusing (Dwyer is a highlight), but is all too often morose.

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