Theater review by Helen Shaw. City Center Stage II (see Off Broadway). By Allison Moore. Dir. Jackson Gay. With ensemble cast. 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
It feels cruel to call it a sitcom, but there’s certainly a whole lotta situation-based har-de-har in Allison Moore’s Collapse, a glib dramedy about recovering from real-life tragedy. And this isn’t always a bad thing! Despite some awkward casting and tonal unsteadiness, much in Jackson Gay’s production of Moore’s TV-ready clockwork succeeds. Someone does something outrageous, somebody does a little take, and we laugh. You can almost picture the camera swinging around the set.
Things are currently a bit tricky for lawyer Hannah (Hannah Cabell) and her husband, David (Elliot Villar). They’re always in a rush—Hannah hustling disheveled David into pants and off to a support group or work (where he seems to have stopped going), or to a fertility-doctor appointment. Certainly it’s the wrong time for her vapid sister Susan (Nadia Bowers) to show up, suddenly homeless and vaguely beholden to a drug dealer. And wouldn’t it be embarrassing if Hannah found herself spilling these uncomfortable beans to a sex addict named Ted (Maurice McRae)? Indeed it would be. Cue Cabell’s wide-eyed, nervous reaction shots, ones that get wider-eyed as the plot’s coincidences mount. Unfortunately, all this light-hearted chaff is blowing around David’s very real trauma: a near-death experience suffered in the Minnesota bridge collapse. Moore wants to shade her comedy, turning it black with mentions of the economy and David’s mental fragility. Her form’s patness, though, fights back; it’s hard to play a fugue on kazoo.—Helen Shaw