nytheatre.com review by Joshua Chase Gold
August 14, 2009
Dream Lovers, by Albi Gorn, consists of five scenes all loosely strung together by the idea of the search for one's perfect "dream lover." These quirky and fantastical scenes have great potential, but make for a somewhat uneven evening of theatre.
The first scene of the evening, "A Name by Any Other Name," introduces us to a womanizing British man and his romp for the evening. Claude (Michael Muldoon) has a vast problem remembering the name of the woman he's with at any given time. Consequently, he makes a habit of jotting the names down on stickies to jog his memory. Unfortunately his plan goes awry and what results is a conversation about whose name is whose. Though the piece starts in an interesting place, the actors seemed very uncomfortable with the quick language, which felt a bit like a lowbrow carbon copy of David Mamet. There was also lack of rapport between Muldoon and Melinda O'Brien, making it hard to believe these two people could have shared an evening of Triple X action!
"Dream Lover" opens in the post-coital bliss of an old married couple who have just finished having sex for the fifth time that evening! The couple decides that it is impossible that they have had sex five times that evening and come to the conclusion that this must be a dream. The scene is spent arguing over whose dream it is. Gorn again gets caught up trying to create witty dialogue. Though the concept is interesting the piece runs about five minutes too long (as do all the scenes), causing the audience to fidget while trying to connect dots that simply can't be connected.
The evening begins to turn with "Verbatim," in which Marlene (Karen Quinn-Panzer) hires a court reporter (Michael Muldoon) to transcribe a fight with her husband Reese (Kurt Lauer) in an attempt to prove to him that he doesn't actually listen to her. Quinn-Panzer's performance is electric and she and Lauer perfectly hit the nail on the head in their portrayal of an Upper East Side couple who don't communicate. Gorn lets this vignette develop naturally and does a superb job of encapsulating the couple. Muldoon's performance of the nerdy court reporter, determined to give his opinion, is also one of the standouts of the evening.
"The Rub," the most creative and inspiring piece in the show, centers on Marieke (Sarah Smegal) and Jeff (Sean M. Grady), two office workers who spend their days computing numbers and working on time sheets. The two, who have just met, dream about each other every night and share romantic dream-dates in Italy, France, and beyond. They share their dreams at work the next day—which are miraculously the same. The chemistry between Smegal and Grady is adorable. They endear themselves to the audience and I genuinely cared about them. Gorn shares with the audience a simple, lovely, and quite funny, story.
The final scene of the evening, "Double Date," takes place in a cafe and introduces us to two bipolar people who have been set up on a blind date. I can't say much more or I will ruin the piece, but Quinn-Panzer once again steals the scene. There are also very charming performances by Kurt Lauer and Elise P. Godfrey.
The entire concept of Dream Lovers is really quite interesting. What do we dream our perfect lover to be? What is our ideal relationship? Why aren't we honest with each other? All these topics are addressed through humor. However, the piece is not balanced well. Gorn's attempts at creating 'smart' dialogue sometimes end up confusing the audience, and the fact that someone different directs each scene makes the evening feel more like a showcase and less like a show. But I urge you to see it, if for no other reason than "The Rub." It really is some of the most interesting writing I've seen in a long time.