Gin and Milk
nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
August 18, 2011
Try as one might, a square peg just cannot fit into a round hole, unless someone’s got one heck of a sledgehammer. And truthfully, if one does manage to get that peg to stick, there’s probably a decent amount of damage to both the round hole and the square peg, and not much chance of either item of the pairing to emerge unscathed (to say nothing of what was probably done to the drywall or object being hammered).
The proclivities of the above conundrum are paralleled by the characters Kate and Rob from Lucky devil Theater Company’s premiere of Gin And Milk, who despite all odds try to force themselves into an emotional and physical connection. In the role of the sledgehammer, director/writer Antony Raymond has tried to craft a semi-lurid, booze-soaked evening of a pair of mismatched thirtysomethings in search of meaning, redemption and casual sex. Unfortunately, the by-the-numbers twists and turns of the plot of Gin And Milk do not succeed in revealing new truths for either the audience or the two characters involved, which dulls any shock value that the piece may have.
What the piece does have going for it are a pair of gung-ho actors in Lindsay Iuen (Kate) and Eric Wdowkiak (Robert) who do everything they can to bring some heart (and heat) to their roles. Kate is an ex-pat British cougar in modern-day Manhattan who invites her prey Robert, a milquetoast mathematics analyst, up to her place for a few cocktails and a possible roll in the hay. They dance around each other verbally with a lot of predictable opposite-sex banter, and then physically when they try to get down to the "business" at hand, please refer to the square peg analogy earlier. Rob and Kate soon learn that when chemistry doesn’t work, due to the back stories of both characters involved, they just can’t force it.
The problem is that the actual plot of Gin And Milk, referenced in the script as two things that don’t match up well, mirrors how the entire production goes over, or rather, fails to. This is Theater of the Awkward, which works a whole lot better under a comedic premise rather than the heavy-handed dramedy that the piece is currently directed to be. The audience has only a brief window of time to try to look into the souls of these two fractured characters, and without seeing the sources of Kate and Robert’s heartbreaks onstage, it is really hard to care about them.
Here is the one moment where Gin And Milk actually completely works—when Kate and Robert are both drunk enough to roleplay with each other and pretend that they are actually in love with one another. Suddenly, it was like a ray of sunshine on a dreary day and both actors were let loose to smile, enjoy themselves and truly play with one another. More moments like that would allow the audience to immerse themselves in the positive aspects of a one-night stand, the excitement and the newness of a new lover—a different way for these characters to look at life, even for a moment. A lot more levity and a bigger sense of the word ‘play’ might give a fresh look to this theatre piece.