Sunday, November 11, 2007
In "The Way Down," one of the ten short one-act, one-man playlets that make up the isolating spine of Archipelago, a boy named Danny (Nick Lewis) has jumped to his death, only to find that time now passes remarkably slow, allowing him enough clarity of thought to regret the choice he made. But playwright Richard Strand doesn't give Danny any room to develop, nor does he waste much more than Danny's three seconds to consider anything broader than the cheaply developed gimmick of the short play, and he dies without any catharsis at all. The rest of the plays largely follow suit, giving largely unimaginative glimpses into the lives of characters whom we meet too briefly to care much for. This is especially true of an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' "(A Diptych)" and for Davy Rothbart's "Scarface," which spends more time trying to convince us of its feelings through an anecdote about a bat than by giving us anything real to ground ourselves with. There are sparks of creativity in Shelia Callaghan's "Hold This," and in Brian Patrick Leahy's "Cranberry" (about a suicide artist who is literally going to leave her mark), and both the performances and the writing of Anton Dudley's "Up Here/In Here" and Erica Rosbe's "Orbit" are satisfying wholes. Along with the passably performed Beckett piece, "Act Without Words I," that makes the show about as even as you'd expect, a fifty-fifty mix of theater that demonstrates just how important it is for a show to eventually come together.