Monday, March 17, 2008

The Break-Up and the Happy Sad

Photo/Joan Marcus

Ken Urban's new one-act, The Happy Sad, is as bipolar in tone as it is in title. At times, it is quirky (characters do not break into song so much as they deliberately pause the action and drift into a reverie) and at others it is profoundly honest (scenes between Marcus and Aaron seem particularly exposed and raw), but it is never wholly comfortable within its own skin. Stephen O'Reilly and Annie Scott, who give a spine to the cyclical scenes as the broken-up Stan and Annie, are good actors stuck in leaden roles (I'm giving O'Reilly the benefit of the doubt that it's just a badly written opening): however, if there's vulnerability beneath Stan's headphones or Annie's nest of hair, it never shows. And that's what Ken Urban struggles most with in his play: showing the truth beneath his tacky, stylistic trappings.

(As for Tommy Smith's ten-minute The Break-Up, which precedes Urban's play, I have nothing -- nothing -- positive to say. Sorry.)

[Read on]

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