Friday, August 17, 2007

FRINGE: "Better This Way"

Everything about Better This Way sets itself up to be the opposite of what it calls itself: the characters believe they are interesting, not strange; the show is billed as an "original theatrical event"; the company's name is "Deliberate Motion"; and then, oh yeah, there's the title. The actions of these doomed lovers (Tina Nikolova, Scott Troost, and Shannon Fillion) may be deliberate, but they come across as random. In that, it is similar to Mark Z. Danielewski's Only Revolutions, which took the essence of love and obfuscated it near beyond recognition. However, while Danielewski's book could at least fall back on recognizable postmodern aestheticism, this collaborative show only achieves brief moments of early, movement based cinema. Their ideas--murmurs of text really amid a series of slow, gentle movements--hang loosely from the starved plot (which, if it is to believed, makes the trio into an odd pantheon of miserable gods). Nor does Greg Polin's film, a sort of living background, help to nourish the script: emptiness, OK, I get it; now what are you going to spend the next fifty minutes doing? There's a great closing line ("You can't fall out of love the way you fell into it; you have to crawl out of it") and I admire the quiet, sexual angst, but the play is too gentle for its own good.

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