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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Departures by Kristen Palmer

For your weekend enjoyment, might I recommend, yet again, Departures by Kristen Palmer? It's playing at the Access Theater Gallery below Canal Street, produced by Blue Coyote Theater Group.

I saw the show on opening night and attended a few of the developmental readings. It's a rather rare show for New York theatre, and it has an enviable realism and humanness that I think most anyone would enjoy.

Departures less tells a story than it gives the audience a peek into an all-too-familiar time and place. Cara is a young American living and going to school abroad, whose visa has run out and must return home. Her boyfriend, a mess of a kid with a charming gift of gab, is full of impossible stories of their future and ill-fated plans for them to stay together. We see these characters with all their young passion and fragility and failings. Our window into their world is a tiny room, and when they leave the room, finally, we can't see them anymore.

One line, in particular, summed up the play for me. In the midst of a late night drunken fight, Cara accuses Andrew of being selfish. His response: "But I spent my entire summer with you." To me, this is the perfect encapsulation of love like this: it lacks any perspective, but it feels so immediate and intense. Spending an hour in their bubble is like spending an hour in any young summer romance: it's rife with desperation, surrender and a joyful sense of freedom. These two are smart and fight smart: they hit each other below the belt, and then go out and get pizza.

The actors both bring their A-game to the play: Keira Keeley makes this fragmented, self-conscious and intimidating Cara incredibly sympathetic; Travis York somehow makes the endlessly overwrought Andrew seemed doomed and magnetic. When he cuts himself shaving (you'll see what I mean) you can see how hard it is not to stay and bandage him up. He's the boy so many of us have been, and the boy so many of us have seen: entertainingly damaged, brilliantly pugnacious, all of his inadequacies just make him more attractive.

Kyle Ancowitz (who has been a partner of mine since around 2003 at this point) does some of this best directing work here. The staging is inventive but never distracts, it only augments the intimacy that the play requires.

Nytheatre.com and Aaron Riccio both have wonderful reviews of the production (far better than this one). You can get tickets here. It's not too long, so there's plenty of time for drinking afterwards, while you compare your own impossible romance with whomever you may bring with you.

1 comment:

david d. said...

I saw it last weekend and it is indeed excellent and rings very true of that age and time, as Matt says. All involved do excellent work. Check it out while it is still around.