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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stitching

Last time I saw an Anthony Neilson play, my knuckles went white. But his latest, Stitching, is as "in-yer-face" as a G-rated horror film. Not that the content's childish: this two-hander deals with soft-core sadism in the wake of a psyche-shattering moment. But the cast is too cute and cuddly to be much of a menace, the slow-paced direction gives us far too much time to get off the hook, and the scenes distractingly jump about in time. Both playwright and director work better with active material, and this constant sense of adagio hurts them, and constantly cuts off the actors, who turn to therapeutic devices and role-play rather than actually confronting their emotions. Even the one scene where Stu (Gian Murray Gianino) snaps at his girlfriend, Abby (Meital Dohan) pulls back, as if fight director Maggie Macdonald is using a safeword from the get-go. It's a little like watching an experiment on NOVA, with each step carefully planned out. But even here, Stitching fails, for it demonstrates nothing.

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