Midtown International Theater Festival
Small Pond Entertainment
THE CONJUGALITY TEST
By MICHAEL LAZAN
Where Eagles Dare, 347 W. 36 St., NYC
July 22 – August 3, 2007
Directed by DAVID GAUTSCHY
Scenic Design ANN BARTEK
Sound Design DAVID GAUTSCHY and GEOFF KNIGHT
Light Design DANIEL WALDRON
Stage Manager LACI KNIGHT
Public Relations and Publicity SCOTTI RHODES
David – Greg Thornton
Bernice – Shaun Bennett Wilson
Louis – Warren Katz
Baba – Amanda Sayle
Debs – Jacqueline Sydney
The fare at theater festivals can be decidedly hit-or-miss, with the trend, often, to showcase the experimental, edgy and up-and-coming if notably flawed works of the myriad creative parties jockeying for a position on the New York stage. In such an arena, THE CONJUGALITY TEST is a welcome, witty, well-cast surprise. About family, fidelity and tests of faith, this wordy romp through the dissolution of an Upper West Side enclave is worth a second thought.
The plot revolves around an intellectual, 50-year-old insurance salesman, David, who meets a flirtatious young woman, Bernice, at a bar. He notices the woman is unreasonably "attracted" to him, and surmises that his common-law wife of 28 years, Debs, has hired Bernice to test his fidelity. The accusations begin to fly, David and Debs become estranged, and their daughter, Baba, and David’s father, Louis, soon descend into dreams of running from the family home.
In one respect, THE CONJUGALITY TEST could seem pompous and postured. Filled with characters musing on Nietzsche an the merits of marriage who talk as if they were debating in the halls of a self-righteous college dorm, the play is engaging, perhaps in spite of itself, and definitely due to the ensemble cast. The scene changes are a little awkward, with the cast moving two set pieces that serve alternately as a bar, bookcases, and packed boxes, but that is what one comes to expect from festival fare.
I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing who hired Bernice, or whether she is successful in ensnaring the subject of THE CONJUGALITY TEST. I will say, though, that I enjoyed the journey.
- Kessa De Santis -