The Girl With Her Hands in the Sand
nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
August 16, 2012
The Girl with her Hands in the Sand, a new play by Jonathan G Galvez, is the story of Maggie Lane, a young painter trying to find herself. Though the show spends over two hours focusing on Maggie's feelings (and secrecy) about her art and debating where her life is headed, I failed to be invested in her plight.
Maggie lives and works in a messy studio, holing herself up after the death of her mother. Those closest to her try to shape her into something else. Egotistical, sell-out artist Klaus Coleman pushes Maggie towards a life of galas and hobnobbing while Maggie's strait-laced sister Penny tries to get Maggie to give up her childish artistic pursuits and find a career. Maggie resists them both, focusing instead on painting the wall in her studio for the fourth time, though she is unsure of what she is creating. When Klaus' intern assistant Danny comes to photograph Maggie's paintings, some sparks flair as they find themselves quoting "Who's on First."
Maggie spends the play pushing everyone away from her. She is resistant to leaving her apartment and she does not want to speak about her work or her past. I could not help but wonder—why do they keep coming back to her? Klaus Coleman is unbelievably self-absorbed and his career is on the rise—so why is he so determinedly supportive of Maggie? What is it that draws Danny to her?
The tone of The Girl with her Hands in the Sand is inconsistent. Tavis Doucette, as Klaus, and Imran W. Sheikh, as Danny, are both exceedingly charismatic, comedic actors. But they feel as though they are straight out of a sitcom—both in the way the characters are written (particularly the larger-than-life Klaus) and in the execution of the roles. In contrast, Katherine Mullis and Erica Jensen, as Maggie and Penny, respectively, come across as being in an emotional dramatic play (a la Proof). The resulting lack of cohesion is jarring and, coupled with the minimal amount of action, makes it difficult to get caught up in the play.
It's not easy to be a poor, young artist and The Girl with her Hands in the Sand highlights the associated insecurity and confusion well. Maggie is caught in a major struggle—pursue her art, sell out or give up. Her ultimate decision is both surprising and the most original part of the play.