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Open: 10/12/12- Close: 11/03/12 In the Summer Pavilion
Reviewed for By: Brianna Essland

Gerry Goodstein ©2019  Ryan Barry, Rachel Mewbron and Meena Dimian

Pretentious is an understatement, at least in regards to the opening monologue delivered by a young man named Ben (Ryan Barry) in Paul David Young’s new play In the Summer Pavilion – a monologue that includes this threat to the audience: “You can go when we say."  The production never fully recovers from this overwritten, excessively philosophical start (there are a handful of similar moments to come) due to a script that uses an acid trip as a way out from establishing clear rules for the world of the play.

Pavilion takes place in a Maine summerhouse where Ben is hosting a party attended by fellow Princeton grads Nabile (Meena Dimian) and Clarissa (Rachel Mewbron).  The shifting physicality between the three characters is intriguing and effective: Nabille leans into Ben, Ben touches Clarissa, Clarissa kisses Nabile.  Friends, lovers, sex buddies – the relationships between these three have been all over the place.  Who will end up with whom?

It’s a suitable question but once they all take acid, scenes uneasily move from random vignette to random vignette.  Because this play exists in AcidLand and not reality… well, anything goes!, which is unfortunately more fun for the playwright than the audience.  Each brief scene highlights details about the characters that seem more arbitrary than enlightening (one wants to be a an artist at some point, another wants to be a farmer for some reason, one is doing a dissertation and tells us all about it) while in between we get dialogue like “We’re not on Earth?” / “We are… and we are not” and “The present contains multiple futures.”  Oh.  Okay.  Hmm.  Thank you..??

Gerry Goodstein ©2019  Meena Dimian and Rachel Mewbron

Of the cast, Barry comes closest to creating a real, fleshed-out human being as every line is delivered so naturally and organically.  He has developed Ben into a chill-yet-on-edge follower who yearns to be a leader.  He especially shines in a scene where Ben awaits an important announcement from Nabile.  He is such an alive, upbeat, colorful presence in this moment, I almost wished I was watching a play just about Ben’s ups and downs.  Dimian makes Nabile calm and collected, but to a fault – without hints of enthusiasm or vigor, it’s difficult to see why Ben and Clarissa are so attached to this guy.  And Mewbron seems miscast – her aggressive sexuality upon the other two is consistently forced because she’s painted Clarissa as stuck-up and cautious in a script that calls for someone carefree and noninterventionist.

Kia Rogers’ light design and Julian Evans’ sound design are fittingly harsh, quick and dark as the characters travel through time while the costume design again and again placed me in a very specific locale (restaurants, art shows, etc).  But at the end of the day, Pavilion’s winning concept never takes off.  Too many moments fall flat because they’re simply not compelling (Nabile discussing asbestos) or credible (it's difficult to take Nabile seriously as he discusses a baby with Clarissa following a scene where he kisses Ben).  With more interesting characters and less unnatural dialogue, it could be fun to hang out in this Maine summer house.  As it stands, In the Summer Pavilion is a drama with few truly dramatic moments.

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