Open: 09/09/10- Close: 09/19/10
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Heather Violanti
“Sometimes it’s best to stay down after you’ve fallen,” concludes Rob, the protagonist of Fallen, and given the unrelenting dreariness of this play, it’s easy to see his point. If only he reached it sometime sooner during Fallen’s seemingly interminable 2 hours and ten minutes.
Given its subject—a depressed, drug-addicted star grows so weary of fame he shuts himself up in his apartment for three years—Fallen isn’t exactly a laugh riot (though playwright/lead actor Kyle Spidle wisely breaks up the angst with some levity, as when Rob and his sister Sara put on silly accents to enact a favorite movie scene). But Fallen’s not exactly a gut-wrenching tragicomedy, either—at least not yet. Dramatic potential gets lost amidst exposition-heavy dialogue that tends to over-explain everything. Characters don’t just feel sad or happy or frustrated—they have to explain their emotions in laundry list detail that defies credibility, especially given how these people, especially Rob, struggle with their innermost feelings. Often, scenes revolve around a female character—Rob’s sister, or the prostitute he hires for sex, or his ex-wife—looking sad while Rob says how depressed he is, or else that female character reveals an emotional truth while Rob seems disinterested or resistant. And the same realizations seem to be repeated over and over—Rob’s sister keeps repeating how she wants to take care of him, the prostitute keeps saying how she wants to change, his ex-wife says how she wants to move on—that there never seems to be any movement forward, or anything more for these characters to learn. Maybe that’s the point—everyone’s stuck on an emotional hamster wheel—but it seems that the play is only skimming the surface of its characters’ emotional depth.
Smoothly directed by Corinne Lee, the cast give fine, committed performances. Anastasia Zorin makes a empathetic, energetic little sister out of Sara, Rob’s only sibling, while Brooke Eddey lends emotional complexity the difficult (and dangerously cliché) role of Vicky, the prostitute with a heart o’ gold who would be Rob’s lover, if he’d let her. Katie Middelton brings a suitably steely compassion to Rebecca, Rob’s ex-wife, though it‘s hard to believe that such an independent person would be so dependent, and so utterly defined, by her relationship with Rob as the play suggests. Kyle Spidle is charismatic as Rob, the star who’s fallen into a life of despair, but he hasn’t yet found all the complex shadings of Rob’s mercurial moods, or mined the bleak extremes of his depression.
Fallen falls short of being an intriguing meditation on the modern fascination with celebrity, but the script shows potential, and the production features polished performances.
Cherry Lane Studio : 38 Commerce Street