nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 14, 2011
Step 1 Theatre's offering at Fringe NYC this year is The Chamber by William Grayson. This piece follows two longtime friends, Mike and Sal, as they deal with the problem of lusting after the same woman (an offstage presence, Lila). Mike has heard second hand that he is going to be a father and is all set to propose to the girl that night, when his roommate, Sal, comes home and reveals that he has been seeing her for a couple of weeks. This spirals into a possessive, irrational argument between two insecure men. This is a story that has been told before and unfortunately it is a story that in this production is not told very well.
Mike (Justin Walker) is written as a pretty basic bastard with a history of cheating and mistreating his partner, while Sal (Orlando Segarra) is more the neutral nice and supportive guy. When Mike hears the news of this infidelity he starts drinking and proposes a game of Russian Roulette. It seems like the making of a pretty engaging situation and I believe that Grayson and Director Gabe Templin intend this to be a terribly gritty, edgy and tense scene. Unfortunately it is anything but. The show is poorly executed overall and frequently reminded me of student work. The actors throw around swear words without conviction and have a couple of physical scuffles never achieve anything close to the requisite grit.
Part of the problem could be that the roles are miscast. More often than not the actors seemed to be talking AT each other rather than communicating and listening. Even when two characters are in an argument of this magnitude, the need to hear one another is vital and it never happened during this show. This is especially disappointing because the script gives us multiple stories of past mistakes and childhood experiences with sub-par parents that might have been more engaging had the deliveries held more depth.
With the lack of conviction and tension that a scenario like this one requires, this show is a miss.