nytheatre.com review by Becky London
August 12, 2006
Perfect is a broad farce, broadly performed, about genetically preprogrammed, "perfect" young people and the generation that programs them. Narcissistic, hysterical Mary (Ali Baynes) tries to convince her genetics doctor (Michael Jalbert) to perform gene therapy on her genetically programmed daughter, Sarah (Laurie Ann Orr) so that Mary can compete with her sister who has already given the therapy to her own "perfect" daughter, Jean (Natasha Graf). However, the gene therapy has left Jean permanently nauseated and keeling over into cataleptic unconsciousness at the first sign of intense emotion. The "perfects" are further challenged by "normals" Jack (Karen Green), a punk rocker friend of Sarah's, and Charlie (Mateo Moreno), a starving painter in love with Jean.
Parental and social programming versus personal freedom and happiness is the clear theme, and Perfect explores it without too much preaching in decently entertaining fashion. As the plot threads gather, the conceits of the play begin to pay off. In the best scene of the play, Jean continually flops over into sleep as Charlie pledges his love. Moreno's over-blown romantic protestation, underscored by his increasingly brusque attempts to wake her up, are delicious.
Not everyone in the cast handles the farcical style well, and some of the performances are a bit self-conscious. Writer/director Tanya Klein could have done her actors a favor by cutting their less than successful excesses. But the audience at the performance I saw laughed happily throughout the performance. So while Perfect is far from it, it makes its point amusingly.