nytheatre.com review by Di Jayawickrema
October 8, 2010
Ken Jaworowski's new play, Interchange, depicts five separate stories that interconnect over time, in the style of films such as the 2004 motion picture Crash. As with that film, there are some interesting ideas here but they are often lost to stilted delivery and indifferent direction.
The play opens with a father and son—Don and Frank—fishing. Frank is dying of cancer and wants his curmudgeonly father to be kinder and more open, especially as the care of Frank's young son will fall to the older man.
The scene changes and we are introduced to Professor Unsworth, played by Jeff Paul, an awkward finance professor whose students gave him terrible midterm evaluations. Of the ensemble cast, it's only Paul who truly shines. His physical mannerisms, especially, are well conveyed as he tries to engage his students and the affections of a certain Professor Belleville. Most of his scenes are comedic but his one tragic scene is equally fine.
The third sketch features a former accountant, Victor, who has recently been released from jail after committing a white collar crime and is now struggling to get a job with a temp agency. David M. Pincus as Victor also gives a good performance, although his scenes with Shaun Bennet Wilson, playing various women in his life, are intentionally uncomfortable to watch.
The fourth grouping consists of a pregnant insurance agent, Letty, and her Machiavellian boss, who forces her to find someone to go to an insurance conference in her stead—and this is how the first lateral connection between the stories is made. The recently bereft and noticeably kinder Don is the agent Letty turns to. The last sketch features a young man on probation, Simon, who has a grudge against the man whose fraudulent business activities caused his father to die of a heart attack—and that man is soon revealed to be Victor.
Several machinations occur; one character gets stabbed, another sets himself on fire—but it was very rarely that I was fully engaged. Save the two actors noted above, most of the cast members don't always feel like they're engaging with each other. Jaworowski's script has some clever moments but also several cliches. Also, David Schulder's sound design, which is used to signal scene shifts, is downright distracting and discordant. This is not a bad play and Jaworowski endeavors to make interesting points about life and death but they are not fully realized yet. Perhaps a few more workshops and a few cast changes will see this play right.