The Inconstant Infection
nytheatre.com review by Dia Shepardson
August 11, 2006
We have all seen a show or two done on a shoestring budget, including Fringe shows, which are captivating and creative. Temerity Theatre's production of The Inconstant Infection neither captivates nor reveals much creativity, which is a shame because the playwright, Ed Malin, has written a play with an intriguing premise. In 1985, an American woman scholar discovers a never-before produced Restoration comedy hidden in the walls of a Tudor house where she is living in England. She and her first cousin, a Brit, venture to America to produce the highly anticipated play with the financial backing of an adult magazine. Of course, many bumps and obstacles occur on the road to opening night, where the cousins find themselves as characters in the play. The bawdy play-within-the-play has numerous Restoration styled puns and quips, and I give credit to Malin for his use of language, though said quips and puns suffer in the comedic execution.
The director and actors fail to run with the text at a steady clip. The play plods along without rhythm or swiftness. Most of the actors' enunciation is poor and a few don horrendous accents which mar the potential enjoyment of Malin's text. Many characters saunter on stage, their purpose unclear and unfocused. An easy 30 minutes could be cut from the hour-and-fifty-minute show just by picking up the pace. The chemistry between the cousins is inorganic and flat, which is regrettable considering that there is supposed to be a buried sexually-charged amorous attraction between the two.
The sexy playmates of 1985 from the adult magazine make a few appearances throughout the show, which at first promises a reprieve from the dragging action. Scantily clad, with "totally awesome bods," I'm all for it. However, the titillation quickly wears off and becomes self-indulgent and sloppy. Their presence doesn't provide a plot push for the piece nor any character development. On the contrary, the playmates seem rather bored most of the time, which echoed my mental state as an audience member.
During the scenes of the revived Restoration comedy, the lighting is incredibly dim and frustrating. Perhaps that may be the fault of the theatre itself, as sometimes resources can be scarce during FringeNYC. Yet the director, Kristina Leath, has an opportunity to overcome technical challenges and lead the cast to creative solutions. Furthermore, it seems that neither Leath nor the actors attempted to create a Restoration comedy ambience onstage to contrast with the scenes that take place in 1985.
The premise of the play is intriguing and I would be curious to see the play restaged with a different director and cast. Then we shall see if Beatrice Bitcherly's long lost "Inconstant Infection" has any staying power.