Sorry…(I love you)
nytheatre.com review by Matthew Trumbull
August 15, 2004
Amidst the theatrical hodgepodge that is Sorry…(i love you), which features Australian actresses Suzanne Mackay and Deborah Ann Hanley, are about thirteen solemn monologues on break-ups and finding direction in life that are still and gorgeous, and that would be, if sieved from the evening’s less inspired rumpus, a tight half-hour’s material written by the performers. Unfortunately, discovering that precious baker’s dozen of unaffected audience connection requires great patience, for the show runs far past my threshold for quotations, plastic humor, and post-feminism cliche. It is disappointing that these fine actresses journeyed ten thousand miles to shore up our defense against sour love with quips about chocolate and shopping.
Director Colin Schumacher has scattered the stage with a flotsam of props, overhung by a clothesline holding up costume elements and greeting cards. The greeting cards are read by Mackay and Hanley to transition between their self-written pieces, and contain the words of canonical authors such as E.E. Cummings, Dorothy Parker, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Disconnected from the autobiographical intimacy of the rest of the play, the greeting card readings lack profundity. Though this might be the unfair fate of any great poem trapped in a card, here it seems to result from the actresses’ underwhelming investment in material that did not directly spawn from their own life stories.
Even greater damage is done by this phenomenon to the comic aspects of the show. Mackay and Hanley open with a revisionist sketch titled “The Truth about Cinderella.” A cloyingly trendy Cinderella succeeds at admittance to the climatic “ball,” thrown for the visiting cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Before she must flee, she leaves a shoe for her prince, with her cell number, e-mail address, etc. clearly written on the bottom. He never calls. Our new Cinderella moral: Men are unreliable clods. In another sketch, two women with a common man in their love history meet at a laundromat, and the claws come out as they dig at each other in asides to the audience. This morphs into a physical competition to upstage one another in apology, as they endlessly trade I’m sorry’s. The sketch can’t find its comedic footing, and settles for being one-note.
Sweet relief comes intermittently throughout the night, though, when the two actresses separate and speak to the audience solo, about such vulnerabilities as waking up alone despite a night of soul-bearing to a partner; reading fairy tales and wondering if coming from a broken home is the only path to remarkableness; wanting to do everything in life at the same time, and remaining stagnant in indecision. Such bittersweet reflections can find surprising humor if left alone, erasing the need for unearned in-your-face playtime to lighten things up.