nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
July 29, 2008
People fall in and out of love, and the timing isn't always right. Sean Michael Rice's Entwine, which premiered as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival last week, is the story of Annie and Sam, whose long-lasting relationship has reached a point of irreconcilability.
Entwine opens with a lengthy slide show projected on a screen, with pictures of Annie and Sam that portray them as a loving, playful, and passionate couple. This introduction provide us with a history of their relationship so that when the two enter the stage we feel we are already well-acquainted with them. But when the dialog ensues it suddenly seems as though Annie and Sam are complete strangers, and it's not immediately clear whether we are witnessing the beginning or the end. Once it's evident that we've fast forwarded to the future, it seems like enough time has elapsed since their last meeting that they may as well be strangers.
The entirety of the play takes place in Annie's tiny apartment in New York, where she has been living and working while Sam has been laying low on the West Coast, content with his humdrum lifestyle and the inspirational prose of Kerouac and Thoreau. What was a temporary long-distance relationship for Sam has become a turning point and breaker for Annie. And suddenly, after all these years together, the two appear so strikingly different it seems odd they ever made it as a happy couple.
A continuous battle between whose right or wrong, Entwine is at times exhausting; however, Eileen Trilli's thoughtful direction encompasses moments that are rich in complexity and allow the actors to delve into the inexplicable torrents of love. Jeff Todesco adds a full emotional inner life to Sam, and it is refreshing to see such a raw performance exhibited from an atypical male character. Annie Keating holds her ground as Annie, adamant that she wants to be free, though at times it seems she doesn't allow her character to explore various emotional levels. It's implausible that none of Sam's tactics cause her to initially reconsider her feelings, which makes it hard to imagine the history we saw earlier projected on screen.
As an audience, we become anxious for Sam and Annie to just make up or break up. But they run circles around the same moot points. And though Sam never gets a hint, it's admirable how unflinching he is in his desire to remain with Annie.
The ending seems a bit trite, but we are left entertaining nuanced clichés: love makes people do crazy things they can't explain; while it doesn't always make sense, we hope that when we find love, we'll fall at the right time.