Underground Artists Theater Company
By STEPHEN BELBER
The Abingdon Theatre Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, 312 W. 36 St., NYC
January 19 – 29, 2006
Directed by DAVID NEWER
Sets JAY PINGREE
Costumes SARAH FRECHETTE
Lighting REVEREND KOGUMO DSI
Stage Manager SUE ABBOTT
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES PUBLICITY
Vince – Jayson Gladstone
Jon – Benjamin Schmoll
Amy – Randa Karambelas
TAPE is a short play, but it is loaded with social and moral issues. The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre is perhaps the smallest performance space I have ever been in, and completely complimentary to the intimate and charged TAPE, forcing the audience to feel like voyeurs or eavesdroppers at a most unusual reunion at a Lansing, Michigan motel.
Ten years have passed since senior year in high school, but Vince, a volunteer firefighter and local drug dealer, has not come to terms with the fact that his ex-girlfriend, Amy, slept with classmate Jon at a party held a decade earlier. Vince invites Jon to his motel room, ostensibly to celebrate the latter’s inclusion in a film festival. The tone quickly changes from celebratory to accusatory when rape becomes the central topic of heated discussion. Enter Amy, now an Assistant District Attorney, and things really get tense.
With issues like drugs, lies and date rape in the mix, it should be rather surprising that TAPE runs only about an hour. That, ultimately, is the downfall to what could have been some very satisfying drama. The set up is all there, but there is no satisfactory resolution. In fact, the ending is rather trite. That said, let’s focus on the interesting aspects. The set up forces the audience to ask questions about perceptions. Who is moral and who isn’t? Is Vince, though he deals and does drugs and appears to be volatile on higher moral ground than the nondescript and seemingly non-threatening Jon, who eventually confesses to "getting rough" with Amy? Or, is assuming Amy was raped the only way that Vince can reconcile the fact that she never slept with him when they were a couple? And what about Amy? Is she a victim in denial? Clearly, there is a lot to work with here, and the three actors as well as the production team do well with the abbreviated material and limited space there is to work with.
TAPE is not a bad play, but it feels incomplete. The company does it justice and then some. So, if you are in the mood to confront some moral quandaries, you may just want to check it out, limitations and all.
- Kessa De Santis -