Quick SummaryIt's a musical, about two people and their five-year love affair (I don't think that's giving away too much). There are only the two characters, Cathy and Jamie (and the music). Sets are fairly minimal. The hook is that the play shows the trajectory of the relationship for each character separately, and in opposite directions. The play opens with Cathy lamenting the end of the relationship, followed by Jamie exulting in falling for his "shiksa goddess." And at the end, he's bitterly breaking up and she's excited about this new guy.
My TakeIt's a clever notion, I guess. The sort of thing a playwright might undertake as an exercise, or maybe a thesis project for their MFA program. But I feel like the playwright got infatuated with this clever idea, and gets a bit stuck in the execution.
And the music is good, though stylistically pretty similar throughout. And at tonight's performance, at least, too loud initially. In Cathy's opening number in particular, it was hard to hear her (amplified) voice over the (amplified) music. They got it balanced better, but I was annoyed at the outset.
And I should mention that both actors (Zak Resnick and Margo Seibert) sing very well. That's important, because it's all singing. (Does that make this an opera? I'm a little fuzzy on the distinctions here.)
But here's the thing for me: it doesn't work. On a couple of levels. One is pretty obvious, which is that you have to try and remember what happened earlier so you can figure out how it meshes with the other character's take on a related (or same) scene later on. That's asking a lot.
But even if I'm willing to do all that work, there are two really serious problems that seem pretty much intrinsic to the work:
- The characters virtually never interact. Their timelines overlap in the middle, and that's a pretty nice scene, but hey, this is a love story, and we never really get to see the characters play off each other. We never get to see their chemistry (or the lack thereof). The whole show is pretty much the antithesis of the maxim "show, don't tell."
- The opening line of the first song gives away the entire plot. There is literally never any question of where all this is going, so no dramatic tension, no clever surprises, no chance for a happy ending. I suppose this could be overcome by having some personal ups and downs in the course of the play, but that's not really there. Everybody's on pretty much a one-way, downhill trajectory. We just see it from two ends at once.
Personal HighlightBy far the highlight for me was Jamie's Christmas/Hanukkah number, where he is telling the story of Shmuel. This is really the one spot where we get to see some aspect of Jamie that isn't about himself, and it's really nicely written and quite sweet.
I wish I could say I liked more of the show overall. It has some nice bits, but ultimately this is trying to tell a story about two people who are supposed to be in love, but without ever showing them in love. It's like two ships passing in a five-year-long night: technically interesting, but not emotionally satisfying.