The Conveniences Of Modern Living
nytheatre.com review by Heather Lee Rogers
August 17, 2010
Daniel John Kelley and Emily Plumb's fine play The Conveniences of Modern Living should be a must-see on your FringeNYC list this year. Most of the play takes place in the small home of Agnes and Harold Hutchinson. As the clothes dryer explains, she "was brought to this house to help Agnes and Harold Hutchinson dry clothes. They needed the help because Matthew Hutchinson was to be born and Agnes and Harold are good parents, like the manufacturers at IKEA." Unfortunately we also learn from the The Dryer that, unlike herself, Matthew did not come with a ten-year warranty and died two years ago. Since Matthew's death Agnes and Harold have forgotten how to talk to each other and so have all the other furniture pieces and appliances. In order to break out of her grief and loneliness The Dryer begins talking to Harold. For the same reason, Agnes begins babysitting a ten-year-old boy named Bobson. Although Agnes and Harold still can't communicate with each other, they at least find comfort and escape in their relationships with Bobson and The Dryer separately.
I very much enjoyed the performance of Jessica Love as The Dryer. She brings to the role a silly, youthful enthusiasm tempered hilariously with the all-knowing confidence of an appliance who sees it all. Her costume by Kate Mincer is also fantastic fun. She is helped by getting some of the best lines in the play which she handles with a maximum load of quirky humor. As an example, she tries to explain to Harold why people are happier in Sweden by flashing the IKEA catalogue. "Just look in the catalogue. Everyone seems so happy just being with their furniture."
Also fantastic is young Zack Palomo as Bobson, the ten-year-old boy Agnes (Maya Baldwin) begins babysitting. Their first scene together, where Agnes nervously tries to get to know him by playing pretend, is so much fun that when I attended they earned enthusiastic applause at the scene blackout. Palomo's comedic delivery is dead-on hilarious and he employs great range by any acting standards. Go see this play so when he's famous you can say you saw Zack Palomo in a play with a talking clothes dryer back when he was in middle school!
Other reasons to see the play are, of course, great writing and an imaginative concept that takes a fun and unexpected route to explore the depths of love and grief. The Conveniences of Modern Living is also a good example of what's great about FringeNYC—shows that are original and take an experimental step away from the mainstream in a fun, hip, and totally downtown way.