Based on the May 30 through July 5, 2003 run at The Vineyard Theatre, NYC
Set Design - Mark Wendland
Costume Design - Michael Krass
Lighting Design - Mary Louise Geiger
Sound Design - Janet Kalas
Original Music - Lewis Flinn
Press Representative - Sam Rudy
Hot off the phenomenal success of AVENUE Q, The Vineyard Theatre is presenting
a world premiere from Jeremy Dobrish aptly entitled EIGHT DAYS (BACKWARDS).
Set in New York, the play starts today, and then plays in vignettes, backward,
until it ends exactly a week before it started.
While this could have been thoroughly gimmicky, Mr. Dobrish has constructed his
play such that the humor and wit of the writing temper the otherwise loose foundation.
The reverse chronology does not make this a better play. It just happens to be
the way Mr. Dobrish chose to write it. To that end, it is on point. Rather than
being an unraveling, the backward journey illuminates the various characters we meet,
bringing the piece to a coherent, if less-than-satisfying denouement. Guided along
with fast direction, simple but good sets, and costumes that quickly distinguish roles
for the six of seven players portraying more than one of these characters with lives
that intertwine, EIGHT DAYS (BACKWARDS), in theory, has a balanced formula.
In fact, the best of the balance comes at the very beginning and at the very end. These
two scenes concern a man (Bill Buell) who has decided to try something new in order to
keep his wife (Randy Danson) interested. Day one consists of a verbal recounting of
events that end on day eight (in real time, day one is day eight, and vice versa), and
there is some satisfaction to be found once we experience the other side of the day.
Only one sticky scene featuring Daniella Alonso and David Garrison as a May-December
couple coming undone gets into some real trouble. A few of the "days" are just so-so,
but otherwise, and in spite of the flaws EIGHT DAYS (BACKWARDS) ends up being an enjoyably
smooth ride that, while it does not delve as far below the surface as one might like, never
leaves the characters stranded in the land of the unwanted caricature. For this, credit
must go to the strong ensemble cast, who enact a myriad of troubled relationships that
range from midlife crisis role-playing to fortune-teller channeling of a deceased soul
mate, to a failed marriage and a disastrous business meeting.
In all, there is some entertainment value to be had in EIGHT DAYS (BACKWARDS), I just
wish it lasted all the way through.