Rip Me Open
nytheatre.com review by Anoush Froundjian
July 15, 2006
Rip Me Open, now at the HOT! Festival, makes you lean forward, wanting answers while you chuckle at the tasteful humor and the uncomfortable suspense. The piece is a collaborative work created by Desiree Burch and Michael Cyril Creighton along with Kyle Jarrow, and directed by Brian Mullin. Creighton plays Sebastian—a dashing, but timid queen—a blonde vixen—who desperately stops at nothing to get answers about his mysterious lover. Desiree Burch plays Lu, the tired, eye-rolling private detective who’s seen it all.
Sebastian has high demands and expectations as he prances around in his colorful ensembles with his quick-to-snap fingers. He has high standards and a fashionable reputation to keep, and he thinks twice about setting foot in an Applebee’s or Sizzler. Underneath this hotsy-totsy front, however, resides a vulnerable flower on a desperate quest for validation.
Lu breaks the fourth wall, inviting us into her secret life, unbothered if we have caught her in the middle of pancakes or a random deodorant application. Her voice is almost too loud for the tiny room in the first half of the play, and her short patience level with Sebastian makes it difficult to sympathize with her character. But as she becomes more involved in the case, her sympathy for Sebastian grows and the two develop a trust, a partnership, where one cannot let the other go, completely. She pulls her hair out, desperate for answers from her client with the missing puzzle pieces and we feel for her, wanting answers of our own. The two characters become each other’s counterpoints—both are lost souls with untold stories. Sebastian is reluctant to spill his guts out to Lu and resorts to using passwords to let her know when he can’t get himself to articulate the details.
The funny banter is paired with hints of what might be a life-threatening case. Little does the audience know just how serious the situation is. With the outrageous comedy comes an eerie, chilly “thing” occurring right under our noses. Who knew that hurting so much could ever feel so good? The piece draws on influences from Dennis Cooper and Haruki Murakami to classic film noir. It is well-written and the language is alive and tangible. Rip Me Open is more than handbags, velvet blazers and lounge singing—it’s a suspense thriller. The thing is the play!