The Present Perfect
Thu May 3 2007
Photograph: Jason Schuler
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
If you’re sitting there, shirttails untucked, worried about your lack of chic, Kourtney Rutherford’s oddball new play should reassure you. According to her, people with pin-neat houses, stacks of money and snowy upholstery are either sharks or mental chum. Rutherford’s arch attack has familiar victims: The pointy-toed cocktail crowd, bored to tears by human emotions, only perk up when dripping venom on their friends. Even their laziness is exquisite: They drink gin, and when considering radical systemic change, they switch to vodka.
Grace (Rutherford), a tittering interior designer, seems about as mentally hardy as her treasured glass art collection. When her husband, Chip (Timothy Donovan Jr.), starts smashing her illusions (by openly flirting with their guests) and her precious objects (by dropping them), she flutters off to the bedroom to have a nice cry. Luckily, Rutherford returns, this time as Grace’s rough-living, boho twin sister, Hope, who has her own designs on the guests.
Rutherford and crew work in a fascinating, zonked-out rhythm—it sounds like conversation, but doesn’t actually achieve exchange. And on Megan Biddle’s scrumptiously icy set, they have plenty of places to drape their ennui. But Rutherford, who has her characters hop willy-nilly between emotional states, opens up mysteries she refuses to explore, and ends the play prematurely. This cocktail needed another jigger of Noel Coward and a further twist of Harold Pinter—but keep watching. Rutherford clearly has all the fixings to make a mean barkeep. — Helen Shaw