Theater review by Regina Robbins
Bernie, the teenage protagonist of Adam Rapp’s The Edge of Our Bodies, is possibly the most New England-y character you’ll ever meet in a play. She’s from Connecticut, goes to boarding school, and has detached parents and a sister at Harvard. A lover of Shakespeare and Pablo Neruda, Bernie takes the train to surprise her boyfriend Michael in New York (where he works at a Brooklyn coffeehouse, naturally, and is preparing to go to Brown). Along the way, she has awkward, intense conversations with a series of older men, in which she sometimes lies and sometimes reveals painful truths. (Despite how well-read and precocious Bernie is, The Catcher in the Rye somehow never comes up.)
As Bernie, Carolyn Malloy is alone on stage for almost the whole play, skillfully walking a fine line between brainy sophistication and adolescent longing. But the play’s conceit is that Bernie seems to be recounting her journey as she experiences it, as though reading aloud from one of the short stories she plans to write in her future literary career. The result is an impressive feat of acting on Malloy’s part, but to what end? Rapp plants seeds in the script’s early scenes that lead to later dramatic reveals but draw more attention to the playwright than to the character he’s created; despite some genuinely affecting and haunting moments, The Edge of Our Bodies feels like a theatrical stunt—the kind a girl like Bernie would love.
59E59 Theaters (Off Broadway). By Adam Rapp. Directed by Jacqueline Stone. With Carolyn Malloy. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission.
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