Diving in December
nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
August 12, 2007
Diving in December is a bit "out there" for a FringeNYC show. It's got a (near) linear story line, three realistic characters, and a naturalistic set. Actors move and talk as they would in the real world. In other words, it's a "traditional" play—something which, given the more avant-garde FringeNYC shows I've been seeing, seems a rarity. This is in no way a disparagement—it actually, funnily enough, felt rather different and refreshing.
The play is about Georgie and Max (a lesbian couple) and Austin, Georgie's best friend from college. Georgie is a grad student who loves math, Max is a sommelier who loves writing, and Austin is a culinary school student who loves, well, cooking. Max loves Georgie. Georgie loves Max. But (you knew there had to be a "but") Austin, we soon discover, also loves Max.
We end up with a nice little love triangle, with Max at the apex. What will she do? She loves Georgie, but Georgie's always working on a proof or a problem set and things aren't exactly peachy-keen. And Austin, though a little awkward, is mighty nice (female, male, it doesn't really seem to matter to Max). So what happens? Diving in December gives the hour-and-forty-minute answer to this love mess.
Playwright Emma Fisher (aided by Lillian Meredith, who wrote Max's poems) has presented us with a fairly interesting story, though it could use some tightening. The plot moves straightforwardly, with a few unannounced jumps back and forth in time that keep us engaged and working. The dialogue is a bit uneven; there are some good one-liners (mainly from Austin), while other lines are simplistic and wooden (in a few cases bordering on Ed Wood-ian).
Director Tasha Gordon-Solomon has utilized the space well and fostered a strong ensemble. However the super realism (propelled by Gordon-Solomon's set design) is hard to keep up, particularly in the prop- and set-limiting FringeNYC, and missing details took me out of the story. For instance, Georgie should be using a pencil not a pen to do her math and probably needs some sort of packet, book, or calculator to do her "problem sets." Also, why is part of the front of Max's sweatshirt wet when none of the rest of her is? If real water is going to be used on stage then it should be used all the way. None of this is necessary—this is theatre not film—but by placing the bar for realism where she did, Gordon-Solomon needs to remain consistent.
Patrick Shaw is very likeable as the oft grammatically incorrect Austin. Lillian Meredith is driven and stubborn as Georgie, and Kymberlie Stansell takes on the acid tongue of Max excellently. The three work together with ease and generosity.
Diving in December needs some work, but certainly has merit and provides a modern look at relationships, careers, and love.