nytheatre.com review by Eric Winick
Here’s a show that probably sounded
really interesting on paper. Take five characters, devise a bunch of
scenes that portray the ever-shifting relationships between them, and
leave the order of these scenes up to chance. Each night, a new order
will emerge, and the story will be told in a different way. We’ll learn
new things about the characters, and new connections will solidify. And
the actors will determine which scenes will appear, and in what order,
by playing… you guessed it, Musical Chairs.
August 15, 2003
While one can't fault the producing company, Yankee Rep, for trying something new, one wishes they'd chosen a play, and a writer (Michael D. Rock) with slightly loftier intentions. The story, which involves a married couple coming to terms with infidelity, and the effects of such on their friends and lovers, is told in increasingly broad strokes, and director Chris McGinn does little to discourage her actors from playing up the script's more ham-fisted moments.
What’s most disturbing about this misguided affair is the fact that, buried somewhere within, there might be a real play. There’s a bitter sting to the scenes between the married couple (Michelle Marlowe and Daniel Kaufman) that brings out the script’s only hint of realism. If only Rock had chucked the gimmick and focused on these two, he might have had something. As it is, with each scene ended abruptly by a DJ who prompts the actors to careen spasmodically about the stage in search of an empty seat, one never has the opportunity to sympathize, empathize, or identify. The game might be the point, but it’s also the production’s biggest stumbling block.
According to the program, the mission of Yankee Rep involves the production of work that "offers insight about the American nation and its people." While Musical Chairs will never be accused of offering insight about the nation, it goes out of its way to portray its people as shallow, sex-obsessed philanderers who can't wait to jump into bed with the first piece of ass that happens along. A valid point, perhaps, but one cannot say it makes for compelling theater.