Fool’s Pearls Productions
By THERESA REBECK
Sanford Meisner Theatre, 164 11th Avenue, NYC
January 19 – 30, 2005
Directed by KEVIN MOLESWORTH
Sets OLIVER SÖHNGEN
Lighting MARK HANKLA
Costume Coordinator MADELINE VIRBASIUS-WALSH
Stage Manager AMY ROBINSON
Liz – Hannah Mason
Gina – Madeline Virbasius-Walsh
Paula – Valerie Donaldson
Lily – Helen Kim
Margie – Gia Rhodes
Bob – Don Fowler
Miles – Matthieu Cornillon
LOOSE KNIT is playwright Theresa Rebeck’s tale of relationships, expectations, disappointments and betrayal. As expounded by five women who form a knitting group and the two men who are in their collective lives, we find that everyone is looking for love, or at least for satisfaction, but no one seems to find it. Of course, the quest for fulfillment is affecting these characters in extreme ways, resulting in lives that are unraveling right before our eyes (note the loaded title), and all we can do is go along for the ride.
The story of LOOSE KNIT is conveyed through a series of scenes alternating between weekly knitting circles and a trio of odd blind dates. All of these dates are with the same wealthy man, Miles, in an exclusive Japanese restaurant. Through all three encounters, Miles is essentially stalwart, taking copious notes and otherwise unnerving the woman he is with. The dates, Margie, Paula and Liz, all members of the knitting circle, are very different, but come away from the experience rather uniformly disgusted. It is an oddity until we discover that there is an architect, Liz’s sister Lily, behind Miles’ attack pattern, making the tension in the play of an entirely different nature than we expect.
The Miles character is superficially the most insidious person we meet, but then that becomes a matter of perspective, and depending on your personal level of tolerance, none of the people of LOOSE KNIT is especially attractive. Margie generates the most comedy, but is neurosis unbound. Paula is a psychoanalyst who is not completely comfortable in her own skin. Liz is the convenient bad girl to her sister Lily’s apparent perfection. Lily’s husband Bob is floundering, and her good friend, Gina, is in a knitting frenzy.
Whether neurotic, adulterous, dishonest or generically dysfunctional, these folks are like an experiment in stereotypes thrown into incubation. The character flaws overcome the characters themselves. That is not to say that the foibles of these "friends" do not generate humor. They do. As an audience, however, we find ourselves laughing squarely at them rather than with them. As for the other details of LOOSE KNIT, the quality of acting is not uniformly skilled, but the company manages to elevate things to an acceptable level. The set is appropriately strewn with knitted items, and shifts between apartments and the Japanese restaurant. The scene changes were not exactly seamless, but as I have never seen a play at the Sanford Meisner where the changes were ever less than awkward, I can presume that this was not a fault of the company.
In this revival of Theresa Rebeck’s LOOSE KNIT, a play that made its world premiere at Second Stage Theater in 1993, Fool’s Pearls Productions makes a respectable go of it. They let the humor shine through, and for overall effort, I commend them. The people we meet here are the kind of types that can be conveniently compartmentalized and easily understood. I guess this is feel good storytelling for the rest of us.
- Kessa De Santis -