Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A woman is bent over the back of a couch; a man stands behind her; a sex act is about to take place. The man seems reluctant; the woman encourages him; their discussion is clearly meant to be funny. It's not; nor is this scene about sex at all. Rather, the man is getting ready to--very nervously--inject the woman, his wife, with hormones to increase her fertility.

This opening is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with Allison Moore's Collapse, directed by Jackson Gay at the Women's Project: a potentially affecting and meaningful play is buried under cutesy, even puerile, humor.  David, the husband, is suffering from PTSD following a near-death experience; Hannah, the wife, fears that she is about to lose her job; both worry about the future of their marriage. There are real themes here about economic, emotional, and physical collapse; about the bizarre ways humans relate to one another; about whether it's possible to ever really recover from pain and loss.

However, Moore seems unwilling to trust her material and keeps getting in her own way. She gives us an unconvincing plot with two-dimensional supporting characters (a cliche sister-who-always-fucks-up, a smooth-talking sex addict) and a lot of noisy dialogue that adds up to little. But then she ends the show with a genuine conversation that hints at what Collapse could have been: smart, heartfelt, moving, real.

Director Gay helps little, with a slightly cartoon-y approach that emphasizes the silliness at the cost of the underlying reality. Hannah Cabell as Hannah leads the cast with her usual intelligence and sensitivity, but even she is hampered by the writing and direction--until that final scene. The others do the best that they can with what they have to work with.

(4th row on the aisle; press ticket)

No comments: