Friday, June 06, 2008
Michael Frayn's 1984 play Benefactors holds up pretty well today, even with Folding Chair Classical Theater's low-budget performance. Despite drinking from empty glasses, the lead performances from James Arden and Lisa Blankenship (as the good-hearted Kitzingers) are full of nuance, from David's frustrating sincerity to Jane's repressed and slow-boiling opinions. And although director Marcus Geduld loses some focus with his poor musical cues, he does pretty well with the material at hand, keeping the parallel between building towers and relationships upright, and keeping the darker thoughts about what it means to "help" someone (who has that right?) in the corner of every politely worded thought. I'm more uncertain about Ian Gould, who appears here almost exactly as he did in When Is a Clock: his over-enunciation places his accent in a different play, and he plays creepiness so overtly that it's hard to ever take him seriously. The only thing that shouldn't be natural in Benefactors are the monologued asides that, truth be told, are so smoothly inserted by the cast that they keep the action moving without becoming expository. The real benefit, however, will come when the melodrama is reduced.